Saudi Arabia on track to open region's first carbon-neutral airport

The kingdom signed a $266.3m deal with Irish company daa International

An artist's impression of the Red Sea International airport, which is expected to handle up to one million passengers a year by 2030. Photo: TRSDC
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Saudi Arabia's The Red Sea Development Company has confirmed Irish company daa International as operator of its Red Sea International Airport that is set to open in 2023.

TRSDC will work with daa International on the airport, which is set to become the region's first carbon-neutral airport.

Red Sea International will be fully powered by renewable energy. The cost of operations and general maintenance is expected to be 1 billion Saudi riyals ($266.3m).

TRSDC group chief executive John Pagano said the airport would be ready to welcome guests early next year.

“Red Sea International is ushering in a carbon-neutral, net zero era for airport designs and operations,” he said.

“As the region’s first-ever airport powered by 100 per cent renewable energy, RSI will serve as an innovative blueprint for decarbonised urban destinations of the future.”

The airport will be able to handle about one million domestic and international passengers a year by 2030.

Mr Pagano said the agreement daa International “marks our latest step towards materialising a sustainable, regenerative gateway that will open this under-explored region” of Saudi Arabia to the world.

TRSDC, which is behind the kingdom's major tourism projects on the Red Sea and the Amaala development, welcomed a delegation of Irish officials that included Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State in the Department of Transport, and Gerry Cunningham, Irish ambassador to the kingdom, to Riyadh to celebrate the signing of the agreement.

The ceremony was attended by General Authority of Civil Aviation president Abdul Al Duailej.

Red Sea International will be the first and only airport in the region with water aerodromes, areas of open water that can be used by seaplanes to land and take-off.

It will also be able to service hydrogen-powered seaplanes.

daa International will provide services to streamline the integration of green technology and waste and resource management, in line with sustainability, safety and security requirements.

TRSDC and the Irish company are working together to attain the Airport Carbon Accreditation Programme offered by Airports Council International Europe.

They intend to achieve the highest standard, Level 4+, which will help Red Sea International to become the first new airport to do so before operations begin.

Updated: October 11, 2022, 1:02 PM