By Rafiq Vayani
RIYADH: Red Sea Global (RSG), the multi-project developer behind the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism destinations, The Red Sea and Amaala, has today signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) and daa International, the operator of Red Sea International (RSI) airport, that will see SAUDIA become the first airline to operate in and out of the Red Sea International airport (RSI).
RSI is on track to open this year along with the first three resorts at The Red Sea destination. Initially it will open for domestic flights to and from Riyadh and later Jeddah, before expanding to handle international flights from 2024.
“In 2016, His Royal Highness, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, set out a vision for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A vision for a thriving country, one that was recognized as a global hub, where people from all around the world would come to experience the best of Saudi culture, hospitality and nature,” said John Pagano, Group CEO of Red Sea Global.
“When the first commercial flight lands at Red Sea International, it won’t just be a point of personal pride for Red Sea Global. It will be a milestone moment for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in making that vision a reality. It is fitting, therefore, that the Kingdom’s flag carrier, SAUDIA, will be first to operate from our destination,” said John Pagano, Group CEO, Red Sea Global.”
The agreement will see SAUDIA commence regular scheduled services to and from RSI. It also provides a framework for the three organizations to undertake joint research on the use of Lower Carbon Aviation Fuel (LCAF) and Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) at Red Sea International Airport. The use of electric vertical take-off and landing jets (eVTOL) to reduce emissions from air travel to The Red Sea will also be evaluated.
Capt. Ibrahim Koshy, CEO of SAUDIA, said: “Today’s agreement marks a new chapter in Saudi Arabia’s aviation history. As wings of Vision 2030, SAUDIA’s contribution is to be an enabler in attaining giga projects targets, and our involvement as the first airline to operate from and to Red Sea International airport is a source of pride for us all. This agreement will strengthen our position in the Kingdom and allow us to collaborate with RSG and daa International to boost tourism and enhance the country’s standing within international aviation.”
The agreement expands on daa International’s existing relationship with RSG as the operator of its international airport. daai will continue to manage the airport and work with SAUDIA on various activities, such as the allocation of airport gates and counters.
Mr. Nicholas Cole, CEO of daa International, said: “Red Sea International is a new gateway for travelers to experience the wonders of Saudi Arabia. Bringing our unmatched airport management expertise, we will work with RSG and SAUDIA to ensure RSI delivers a truly unique experience for all who pass through it.”
Three resorts at The Red Sea will open this year along with the first phase of the Red Sea International airport. A further 13 hotels will open as part of phase one, and upon full completion in 2030, the destination will comprise 50 resorts, offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. The destination will also include luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment, F&B, and leisure facilities.