Saudi Arabia has awarded an Irish aviation company as the operator of a landmark airport by the Red Sea, making it the latest development in the kingdom’s ambitious Red Sea Project.
The Ireland-based firm DAA International, which was selected as the airport’s operator by The Red Sea Development CO. (TRSDC) which is owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), is set to provide all services including those in aviation, corporate and financial, airfield and terminal operations, and the management offacilities and commercial activities.
According to the CEO of TRSDC John Pagano, who spoke to the Saudi outlet Arab News, the company “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.”
He added that it will contribute to Saudi Arabia’s aim to be a new international tourist destination, saying: “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.”
DAA International’s CEO Nick Cole also expressed to the paper his company’s intention 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.”
Announced by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in July 2017, some parts of the Red Sea International Airport will be open in 2022 before it is fully completed in 2030. It is then projected to serve one million passengers annually, taking a maximum capacity of 900 passengers per hour.
Upon the opening of part of the project next year there will be four hotels, before expanding to 50 hotels with a capacity of 8,000 rooms in 2030, as well as 1,300 residential properties stretched across six inland areas and 22 islands in the Red Sea.
This is not the first instance of DAA International working with the kingdom, as it has already been operating King Khalid International Airport’s Terminal 5 in the capital Riyadh since 2016.
The Red Sea Project is a key initiative of the crown prince’s drive to achieve the kingdom’s Vision 2030, which aims to diversify its economy away from oil and expand its tourism industry. In October last year, Saudi Arabia announced its ambitious plans to attract 100 million tourists a year by 2030.