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SAUDI ARABIA/IRELAND. The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) confirmed daa International as operator of the Red Sea International Airport during an official ceremony. The new travel hub is set to become the first ever carbon neutral airport in the Middle East region.

The new agreement follows an agreement originally signed in January 2021. It covers operations and general maintenance services worth nearly SAR 1 billion ($266 million).

Representatives of the Irish Government, Red Sea Development Company and daa International at the signing ceremony

TRSDC CEO John Pagano said, “Ahead of welcoming our first guests early next year, Red Sea International is ushering in a carbon-neutral and net-zero era for airport design and operation. As the region’s first airport powered by 100% renewable energy, RSI will serve as an innovative model for low-carbon urban destinations of the future. »

“Red Sea International Airport is poised to deliver unparalleled luxury experiences” – Nicholas Cole, CEO of daa International

TRSDC hosted a delegation of Irish dignitaries at its offices in Riyadh to mark the signing of the agreement, including Irish Minister of State at the Department for Transport Hildegarde Naughton TD and Irish Ambassador to the Kingdom Gerry Cunningham . They appeared alongside representatives from Enterprise Ireland, the country’s trade organization.

Moreover, the event was attended by His Excellency the Chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), Mr. Abdul-Azeer bin Abdullah Al-Duailej.

According to designer Foster + Partners, the new Red Sea airport is inspired by the shapes of the desert, the green oasis and the sea

“Our agreement with industry-leading daa International, a proven track record of excellence in international aviation, marks our final step towards materializing a sustainable and regenerative gateway that will open up this under- explored from Saudi Arabia to the world,” Pagano added.

Irish state-owned company daa International will serve as the airport operator for Red Sea International in 2023, overseeing design consultancy, management and operations in accordance with the provisions of the General Civil Aviation Authority of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (GACA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

John Pagano (left), CEO of Red Sea Development Company, and Nicholas Cole, CEO of daa International, after the signing of the agreement

The services will also enable the seamless integration of green technology and waste and resource management, aligned with the highest sustainability standards, while prioritizing safety and security, TRSDC noted.

daa International CEO Nicholas Cole said, “Red Sea International Airport is poised to provide guests with unparalleled luxury experiences. We are thrilled to partner with TRSDC to bring to life a seamless, ultra-premium and highly personalized experience for every passenger traveling through this unique gateway, underpinned by stringent sustainability goals.

The partnership will leverage daa International’s extensive credentials in airport operations. The company operates Dublin and Cork airports, has a 20% stake in Düsseldorf airport and an 11% stake in Hermes, which operates Larnaca and Paphos airports in Cyprus. daa is also the parent company of major Irish travel retailer Aer Rianta International.

Red Sea International is designed by international architecture firm Foster + Partners and is expected to welcome its first passengers next year. It will have the capacity to serve around one million domestic and international tourists per year by 2030 – peaking at 900 travelers per hour.

John Pagano with Irish Minister of State for the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton at the signing ceremony

The airport has been successfully registered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and recently conducted test landings and takeoffs on the 3.7 km main runway. The team also celebrated eight million safe working hours with 2,400 workers.

Red Sea International will be the first and only airport in the region with a dedicated runway for seaplanes and water aerodromes, regulated by a new set of GACA safety guidelines.

The destination will also service hydrogen-powered seaplane variants, supplied by hydrogen-electric aviation company ZeroAvia, as well as electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) and electric short take-off and landing (eSTOL) aircraft technology.

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