Red Sea International Airport goes for a private aviation experience


Saudi Arabia has a big presence at this year’s World Travel Market (WTM) in London. That includes pavillions from APEX ‘World Class’ airline SAUDIA, as well as Red Sea Global, which is showcasing the new Red Sea International Airport.

With the airport due to be operated by daa International, APEX Media caught up with Michael White, the company’s international Aviation Business Development and Commercial Contracts Director.

Image via Red Sea Gloal

Designed by global architecture firm Foster & Partners, the first thing to note is that Red Sea International Airport is not designed for any significant amount of passenger dwell time. For example there will be no commercial retail or restaurant concessions at the airport.

This is deliberate. As it will exclusively be for guests at the 16 new Red Sea resorts scheduled to open between now and 2024, the idea is that it will serve as an extension to the overall vacation experience with passsengers arriving and departing quickly.

“Check in happens at your hotel”, says Michael White. “You might be staying at, for example, the St Regis, with your flight at 7pm. You can check in when you want during the day, and an hour or so before departure we’ll transfer you to the airport.”

Image via Red Sea Global

Rather than being dropped off in a large terminal building, the guest will then go to one of five ‘pods’, each of which holds around 350 passengers. The idea according to Michael White is to provide, “a private aviation type experience.”

Once in their departure pod, passengers will be able to use a general lounge where refreshments and dates will be available. There will also be a lounge for premium customers.

Meanwhile, Foster & Partners says that the arrivals process is meant to be seamless, while giving passengers their first impression of the Red Sea Experience.

Upon arrival, passengers will walk down through an oasis themed landscape towards the Welcome Centre. Checked-in baggage is then sent to the resorts directly.

Emphasis on sustainability

Like the Red Sea Development as a whole, the airport is commited sustainability and it will be 100% powered by renewable energy.

At the moment, the airport is looking to gain accreditation for Level 4+ of ACIs’s Airport Carbon Accreditation scheme, which is currently the highest level available. Achieving this standard means going through different stages of environmental footprint mapping, reduction, optimisation, carbon neutrality and finally ‘transition.’

‘Transition’ means that the airport has aligned its CO2 management with global climate goals and compensated for the remaining residual emissions with high quality carbon credits. There are currently 24 airports worldwide that have achieved this standard.

Michael White told us that Red Sea International Airport is aiming even higher and will want to achieve the new Level 5 standard, once launched by ACI.

The soft launch of the airport is due to take place in June 2023. It will initially involve domestic flights to Jeddah and / or Riyadh, the launch carrier for this route is yet to be announced.