SAUDI ARABIA. DAA International, a division of Irish state-owned airports group DAA, and sister company of ARI, has struck a deal to operate the new airport at The Red Sea Development Project in Saudi Arabia.

The Red Sea Project is a major development being built over 28,000 square kilometres on Saudi Arabia’s west coast to create a luxury tourism destination. The first phase of the project, including the new international airport, is due to be completed by the end of next year. The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), owned by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, is the developer behind the new tourism destination and has named DAA International as its partner for the new airport.

The terminal building has been inspired by the the desert and the sea, and aims to provide a “tranquil and memorable experience” for passengers, says DAA International

DAA International has operated Terminal 5 at Riyadh King Khalid International Airport since it opened in 2016, with retail services provided by ARI.

DAA International will manage commercial activities at the new airport. A spokesman said that commercial plans for the new facility are still under discussion. DAA International will also provide airfield and terminal operations, aviation services and facilities management 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 TRSDC Chief Executive John Pagano.

“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 Chief Executive Nick Cole said: “The Red Sea Project is an amazing development and we are thrilled to be playing a major part in it by becoming the operator of the new airport.

“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. We intend to deliver a seamless airport experience for passengers, underpinned by a commitment to achieving the development company’s stringent sustainability goals.”

The Red Sea International Airport will 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 new Red Sea development. The airport will be powered by 100% renewable energy.

The airport is being designed by international architecture firm Foster + Partners, which has taken its inspiration from the local landscape. The terminal building has been inspired by the forms of the desert, the green oasis, and the sea, and aims to provide a “tranquil and memorable experience” for passengers, said DAA International.

The roof shells are inspired by the desert dunes and will provide natural shade to passengers in both landside and airside areas. An internal green oasis with a garden has been designed to create a relaxed, resort-like atmosphere within the airport terminal. Construction of a new runway, seaplane runway, taxiways, helipads and a road network for the airport is also under way at the site.

On 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 first phase of the project, scheduled for completion in 2022, will include the new airport, up to 3,000 hotel rooms, recreational facilities and residential properties.