The Red Sea Development Company appoints daa International to manage operations at destination’s international airport


Red Sea International Airport aims to provide a unique welcome for all visitors underpinned by a seamless and sustainable experience

Riyadh: The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), the developer behind the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism project, has named daa International as the operator of The Red Sea Project’s unique and iconic airport. 

daa International will provide airfield and terminal operations, aviation services, facilities management and commercial activities, as well as corporate and financial services.

“Our state-of-the-art airport will provide a unique gateway for guests arriving at our destination, and this announcement is an important step in bringing the experience to life ahead of welcoming visitors by the end of 2022,” said John Pagano, CEO of TRSDC.

“daa International was selected because we are confident that they can deliver not only an airport experience worthy of our luxury destination, but for their commitment to ensuring our sustainability goals are met.”

daa International will manage the operations of the airport during three separate stages. Stage one will involve ensuring that all airport designs benefit the customer. Stage two covers planning a full and seamless operational model for the airport when it opens to the public. The final stage will be to manage and operate this plan, maintaining the highest standards in customer experience and sustainability, and prioritizing safety and security. 

“The Red Sea International Airport will become a fundamental part of each visitor’s journey to this unique destination, and we believe their holiday experience should start from the moment they land,” said daa International Chief Executive, Nick Cole.

“That is why we intend to deliver a seamless airport experience for passengers, underpinned by a commitment to achieving TRSDC’s stringent sustainability goals. We’re pleased to play our role in helping to open up this new destination and wonderful country to the rest of the world.” 

The Red Sea International Airport is accessible by 80 percent of the world’s population in less than eight hours and is set to serve one million passengers annually by the project’s completion in 2030, with a peak capacity of 900 passengers per hour. Visitor numbers will be limited to one million, based on the environmental carrying capacity of the destination. 

The entire transport network at the site, including the airport, will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. In line with TRSDC’s commitment to set new standards in regenerative tourism, the airport is designed to include shaded areas and natural ventilation that minimizes reliance on air conditioning. 

TRSDC awarded the airport design contract to international architecture firm Foster + Partners in October 2019, after it presented exciting designs that are explicitly informed by the natural Saudi landscape.  

TRSDC also awarded a contract for construction of a Code F runway, Code B seaplane runway, aprons, taxiways, helipad, roads and navigation aids to a Saudi joint-venture, Nesma + Partners and Almabani, earlier this year and work is well underway at the site. 

Upon completion in 2030, The Red Sea Project will comprise 50 hotels, offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and around 1,300 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. The destination will also include a luxury marina, entertainment and leisure facilities.

The Red Sea Development Company  is a closed joint-stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia. TRSDC was established to drive the development of The Red Sea Project, a luxury, regenerative tourism destination that will set new standards in sustainable development and position Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map.

The project is being developed over 28,000 km2 of pristine lands and waters along Saudi Arabia’s west coast and includes a vast archipelago of more than 90 pristine islands. The destination also features mountain canyons, dormant volcanoes, and ancient cultural and heritage sites. The destination will include hotels, residential properties, leisure, commercial and entertainment amenities, as well as supporting infrastructure that emphasizes renewable energy and water conservation and re-use.

Activity for the first phase of development, which focuses on enabling the infrastructure to support future work, is well underway. A marine infrastructure contract awarded in July 2019 includes the construction of a 3.3 km crossing to Shurayrah (the main hub) and development has begun at the Coastal Village, which will be home to around 14,000 people who will work at the destination.

About daa International:

daa International, is part of the daa Group, which operates and manages airports, and travel retail businesses in 16 countries. daa International daa International offers advisory, management and investment services to clients globally. daa International has operated Terminal 5 at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia since it opened in 2016. 

daa, which is ultimately owned by the Irish State, owns and operates Dublin and Cork airports in Ireland, holds a 20% stake in Düsseldorf Airport and an 11% stake in Hermes Airports, which operates Larnaca and Paphos in Cyprus. The group’s travel retail business ARI has operations in 13 countries including Ireland, India, Cyprus, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Bahrain.

daa manages or holds stakes in airports that handled almost 87 million passengers in 2019. Almost 185 million people passed through airports in which daa group has a retail presence during the same year.