>> A crackdown on corruption in Saudi Arabia has grounded much of the kingdom's private jet industry. Why? Some were handed over to the state in settlements, while others belong to Saudis who either face travel bans, or don't want to flaunt their wealth during the government's anti-corruption crackdown, launched by Prince Mohammad bin Salman in late 2017.
It saw dozens of princes, businessmen and government officials detained here at the capital's Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Critics said the purge was a power play by the prince as he moved to consolidate power in his hands. It's a sign of the impact the campaign has had on private enterprise and the wealthy elites.
Reuters has found that dozens of planes are stranded at airports across the kingdom including Riyadh and Jeddah. The idle aircraft include Bombardier and Gulfstream jets worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Saudi's aviation authority said questions on the issue were outside its mandate. Prince Mohamed has made reforming the kingdom's economy central to his plans.
But there's this sense of uncertainty around his policies. The crackdown's impact on the business community and private enterprise, already reeling from low oil prices and weekend consumer confidence, has spooked investors. Saudi Arabia's finance minister says the state has collected more than $13 billion from settlements reached under the crackdown.
It's unclear what the government will do with the grounded jets. One source said it had to be looking to set up its own private jet company made up entirely of seized aircraft. For now, the kingdom's wealthy elites fly under the radar. Some are taking commercial airlines to nearby countries before chartering their private jets from there