‘Send my bags to the resort please’: Welcome to TRSDC’s new airport

Exclusive Unlike current standards, the entire operational plans for travel processes at RSI ensure top- notch customer services and create an environment that offers a seamless, unmatched and hassle-free experience.
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Unlike current standards, the entire operational plans for travel processes at RSI ensure top- notch customer services and create an environment that offers a seamless, unmatched and hassle-free experience.
Exclusive ‘Send my bags to the resort please’: Welcome to TRSDC’s new airport
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Updated 31 July 2022

‘Send my bags to the resort please’: Welcome to TRSDC’s new airport

‘Send my bags to the resort please’: Welcome to TRSDC’s new airport
  • The first phase of this Saudi Vision 2030 project will welcome the first guests early next year

Flight testing held on July 20-21 at the Red Sea International Airport, which is under construction at The Red Sea Project, marks the beginning of a new era of tourism and travel in the Kingdom.

With over five hours’ drive from the nearest existing major international airports of Jeddah or Madinah and over two hours from the nearest regional international airports of Yanbu or AlUla, RSI airport will bring domestic and international guests to the doorstep of this new global tourism destination.

Deliberately located some 20km from the sensitive coastal lagoons and islands, home to precious mangroves and reefs, the airport is tucked away on an open plain between the coastal dunes and the mountains.

The first phase of this Saudi Vision 2030 project will welcome the first guests early next year, and the airport’s developers are determined to make the travelers’ experience unique.

TRSP in itself is a unique regenerative development with the vast majority of land and marine area remaining untouched and the carefully selected development intervention set to achieve an environmental net-positive benefit by 2040. In addition, the supporting infrastructure, such as the new airport, has been sensitively approached to stay true to the vision and values of the project's developer The Red Sea Development Co.

TRSDC Airport Project Executive Director Joseph Stratford, a civil and environmental engineer who has spent most of his career in airport infrastructure delivery in the Middle East, is spearheading the project.

He left for his homeland for five years to apply his international airport delivery experience to the expansion of the London Heathrow Airport. He has since returned to the Kingdom to lead on next-generation aviation delivery.

“Red Sea International Airport is one of the smaller airports I have led, but without doubt the most iconic, progressive and special. The architectural concept, mode of operation and guest experience are truly unique,” Stratford told Arab News in an exclusive interview.

 

Red Sea International Airport is the most iconic, progressive and special. The architectural concept, mode of operation and guest experience are truly unique.

Joseph Stratford

Unmatched operating procedures

Unlike current standards, the entire operational plans for travel processes at RSI ensure top-notch customer services and create an environment that offers a seamless, unmatched and hassle-free experience. 

For instance, the aviation team is working toward implementing a unique concept of operations for baggage handling. Passengers at RSI will not have to worry about stopping by a baggage claim area to pick up their bags.

“Instead, the passengers will be escorted to the welcome center in the arrival area. The bags will be processed in a dedicated facility through a state-of-the-art baggage handling system that can track each piece until it is delivered to the owner at their selected destination,” said Abdulaziz Al-Abdan, aviation operations director, RSI airport. 

Additionally, the airport will apply discreet and non-intrusive security arrangements and procedures, enhancing the overall customer experience without infringing any regulatory requirements governing such operations. 

Furthermore, RSI will be the first and only airport in the Middle East and North Africa that serves amphibious seaplanes and is linked to water aerodromes. 

The airport features a dedicated runway for seaplanes and small general aviation aircraft operations, allowing direct air access to the Red Sea destinations. 

“Our aviation team worked closely with the General Authority of Civil Aviation to establish the regulatory framework for water aerodromes, seaplanes and water runways,” said Al-Abdan.

The regulatory framework resulted in the introduction and enforcement of a new set of safety regulations that govern the establishment and operations of water aerodromes GACA Regulations Part 137, as well as agreeing on the certifications for Red Sea Air Services Co. to operate seaplanes and water runways.

 

 




Ammar Ghaith, associate airport infrastructure director, RSI, said the airport will be the
first and last impression of all their distinguished guests.

Magnificent by design

What makes RSI different is it is a high-end tourist destination airport and not a regular civil airport. The scope of its operations includes mobility and hospitality services that begin when guests arrive at the airport until they finally check in to their hotels.

“The airport is an extension to the exclusive resorts at the Red Sea and will be the first and last impression of all our distinguished guests,” said Ammar Ghaith, associate airport infrastructure director, RSI.

It has a unique design with efficient space planning that allows for fewer steps to complete the arrival or departure process, besides minimum human intervention and shortest processing times.

The airport has partnered with key stakeholders to facilitate its flight procedures and airspace networks.

The stakeholders include GACA, Saudi Air Navigation Services, airport aviation consultant United ATS, FlyNas, FlyAdeal, TRSDC Operations, Red Sea Air Services Co., airside contractor Nesma Almabani Joint Venture, water runway consultant Jacobs and airport operator DAA International.

Mobility like never before

Ground and sea-based local mobility to resorts will be by more-sustainable electric vehicles chosen over petrol or diesel engine vehicles.

In the case of air taxis, although initially planned to be by conventional amphibious seaplanes, the airport has a dedicated secondary runway, which will be an early adopter of hydrogen-powered seaplane variants and eVTOL and eSTOL aircraft technology.

While eVTOL is the acronym for electric vertical takeoff and landing technology, eSTOL is electric short takeoff and landing type aircraft.

This approach will enable guests and their baggage to travel quickly, quietly and sustainably to and from resorts with style and pure spectacle.

The air taxi terminal is scheduled to open next year, initially to be used for a combination of air taxi, domestic and general aviation for guest access to the first tranche of hotels. The iconic main terminal building will provide international commercial aviation capability and capacity for successive hotel delivery and operation tranches.

The flight testing initiated recently is a necessary step for all new airports where a purpose-built aircraft laden with specialist equipment maneuvers new runways to test the visual and instrument aids and systems. In addition, it enables pilots to conduct safe and efficient takeoffs and landings in diverse weather and other operating conditions.

Shoring up responsibly

“There has been a quantum leap in recent years in sensitive delivery in this region, in terms of how we approach, plan, deliver and operate facilities like these,” Stratford explained.

“This is, across the board, from the culture of caring for the workforce, environmental protection, processes, quality of product, respect of time and cost. The wider team and I are passionate about ensuring that projects like this are delivered responsibly,” he added.

Stratford earlier lived in TRSP Construction Village Housing accommodation alongside many of the 1,800 contractors’ staff for the airport. He relocated this year to the Coastal Village Residences, where the TRDSC offices, management hotels, apartments, villas and townhouses have accepted staff, suppliers and visitors in the final construction stages of TRSP ahead of the phased opening of the resorts to tourists next year.

“Striving for high standards has been key to the timeliness and quality of delivery of the airport facilities so far,” Stratford said. “Indeed, the airport project has passed nine million safe man-hours worked without a lost time injury.”

TRSDC’s approach aligns with the national and industry leadership mandate that aviation development is a critical enabler of economic growth and should focus on environmental and sustainability implications and challenges.

Stratford added: “Besides providing iconic and progressive facilities in form and function, we have considered sustainability and the environment from the outset.

“For the airfield construction, the contractors have met the highest standards and expectations that I have seen in my career — impact assessments, permitting, monitoring and reporting are taken seriously. The team’s culture, pride, passion, professionalism and care play their part.”

Construction is underway on the passenger terminal facilities, with building structural and envelope packages awarded and commenced. TRSP will be entirely off-grid, including the airport, powered by a solar farm and the world’s largest battery storage facility.

Going high on ratings

Additionally, the airport passenger terminal facilities have followed industry-leading LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the rating system used by the US Green Building Council to measure a building’s sustainability and resource efficiency.

“We have aimed high for a Platinum Rating,” emphasized Stratford. “The detailed design-stage preliminary rating suggests we are on track for a Gold Rating or better, to be confirmed through construction and operation.”

He added: “We have been driven toward requirements, selection of materials, methods, equipment, energy and resources reduction and reuse.”

In theory, some 15 percent of the aviation industry’s carbon challenge is associated with the ground-based airport infrastructure, and the other 85 percent is associated with jet aircraft and flight.

“We’re mindful of our part of the aviation sustainability and carbon challenge, and what we can do with practices and technology of the day, but also looking to what we can do to facilitate emergent technologies and practices,” Stratford informed.

For example, RSI is planning infrastructure for sustainable aviation fuels, ground power and preconditioned air, use of resources and energy-efficient operational practices.


Gasoline price to shape EV demand in Kingdom: KAPSARC

Gasoline price to shape EV  demand in Kingdom: KAPSARC
Updated 6 min 6 sec ago

Gasoline price to shape EV demand in Kingdom: KAPSARC

Gasoline price to shape EV  demand in Kingdom: KAPSARC
  • KSA has implemented energy price reforms to unlock economic and environmental benefits for the country

RIYADH: Growing gasoline prices will play a significant role in increasing the demand for electric vehicles in the Kingdom, according to Anwar Gasim, a King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center researcher.

“The higher the domestic gasoline price, the more a consumer may be incentivized to switch to an electric vehicle,” he told Arab News.

According to Gasim, gasoline prices in the Kingdom seven years ago were a quarter of today’s prices.

“If you look at the 91-octane gasoline, it was SR0.45 ($0.12) per liter. Today, it’s SR2.18,” Gasim said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.

Since 2016, the Kingdom has implemented energy price reforms to unlock economic and environmental benefits for the country.

“Since gasoline prices ended up getting linked with the international price, the government had to put a cap on them when international prices went up very high last year,” said Gasim.

It means there is a limit that domestic gasoline prices will not surpass, no matter how high energy prices may hike internationally.

“I think it was becoming too high for people here, and then the government decided to put a cap,” he said.

According to Gasim, raising domestic energy prices can contribute to the Kingdom’s climate goals.

Saudi Arabia aims to reduce emissions and increase the share of renewables to 50 percent by 2030.

“Higher energy prices can incentivize more efficient behavior, more energy conservation, and therefore it can help save energy and reduce emissions,” he added.

KAPSARC was a part of the regulatory team led by the Ministry of Energy, which on Aug. 22 issued the completion of all legislative and technical aspects to regulate the EV charging market.

These stations will more likely charge the vehicles using the national grid. Still, there are possibilities that off-grid stations will be a requirement.

Some neighborhood distribution networks can no longer accommodate any additional load. They have reached the peak of the transformer capacity.

The only option is using off-grid solutions; renewable sources like solar and hydrogen can supply these off-grids.

Electromin, a wholly owned e-mobility turnkey solutions provider under Petromin, in May announced the rollout of electric vehicle charging points across the Kingdom.

In an earlier interview with Arab News, Kalyana Sivagnanam, the group CEO of Petromin, said that the network includes 100 locations across the Kingdom powered by a customer-centric mobile application.

Sivagnanam said that the company would set up most of its charging stations in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam and eventually branch out across the country.

Electromin’s charging network will offer a complete spectrum of services from AC chargers to DC fast and ultrafast chargers, catering to all customer segments.

The imports of EV charging equipment were permitted in the Kingdom in 2020.

As part of the Kingdom’s sustainability strategy, the Royal Commission of Riyadh launched an initiative last year to ensure that 30 percent of all vehicles in the capital would be powered by electricity by 2030.


Saudia to bring voice recognition technology, augmented reality on board: VP

Saudia to bring voice recognition technology, augmented reality on board: VP
Updated 30 September 2022

Saudia to bring voice recognition technology, augmented reality on board: VP

Saudia to bring voice recognition technology, augmented reality on board: VP

RIYADH: Saudia, Saudi Arabia’s national carrier, is aiming to integrate voice recognition technology and augmented reality to its services, the company announced during the second edition of the Global AI Summit held in Riyadh.

Saudia has signed an agreement, aimed at boosting artificial intelligence in the flight sector, with the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority and the Saudi Company for Artificial Intelligence. Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the summit, Dr. Khaled Alhazmi, vice president of IT support and operations at Saudia, said that the agreement is the first step in introducing AI products to the airline’s services.

Alhazmi explained that the company is currently exploring voice recognition technology through one of SDAIA’s products, an app called SauTech.

“It is an amazing app; it currently gives accurate results for the recognition of the dialects of the Arabic language. And right now, we are trying to explore opportunities and use cases, to start implementing it in our services,” he said.

The company is also planning to adopt Internet of Things technology as well as augmented reality to ensure that they are first movers to implement AI into their services.

“Our strategic direction is to build an ecosystem of partners who would enable us to digitize our services to our customers. We are aiming to deliver a first-class experience to our customers,” he added.

Alhazmi believes that the digitalization factor currently in use at the airline such as downloading tickets to personal devices can be greatly expanded on, and that there are huge opportunities to integrate technology into the sector.

“We are digitizing everything under a program, which is adapting the digital first. Right now we believe that we need to put in use all the data science, all the technologies nowadays, and put them into the hands of the customer,” he said. The company wants to improve its self-service options by providing a personalized platform that will enable users to customize their journey according to their needs.

“That’s actually the main goal because we understand right now that we have a new generation of people who are more interested in technology, they are using technology every day,” he added.

Saudia has also recently partnered with agritech company Red Sea Farms to provide sustainable and high-quality meals for its customers.

“We can see that the adoption of technology in Saudi Arabia in general is getting more mature than other countries,” Alhazmi concluded.


Saudi budget surplus is calculated on $76 for brent price

Saudi budget surplus is calculated on $76 for brent price
Updated 30 September 2022

Saudi budget surplus is calculated on $76 for brent price

Saudi budget surplus is calculated on $76 for brent price
  • Real GDP growth is forecasted to increase by nearly 8 percent year-on-year in 2022 and 3.1 percent year-on-year in 2023

RIYADH: Based on the government budget figures, Al-Rajhi Capital assessed the government's 2023 budgeted revenues to likely be based on Brent at $76 per barrel.

Real GDP growth is forecasted to increase by nearly eight percent year-on-year in 2022 and 3.1 percent year-on-year in 2023, according to Al-Rajhi Capital.

Inflation is expected to be 2.6 percent and 2.1 percent in 2022 and 2023 respectively, Al-Rajhi said.

Revised 2022 revenues are mostly in line with estimates, however, the expenditure budget is much higher than from an earlier announcement, it said.

The 2023 spending budget was raised by 18 percent, with a slight fiscal surplus of SR9 billion expected for 2023.


Saudi Arabia to record a budget surplus of $24bn in 2022

Saudi Arabia to record a budget surplus of $24bn in 2022
Updated 01 October 2022

Saudi Arabia to record a budget surplus of $24bn in 2022

Saudi Arabia to record a budget surplus of $24bn in 2022
  • Total revenues expected to reach about SR1.12 trillion in 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is expecting its budget surplus in 2022 to hit SR90 billion ($24 billion), and another SR9 billion next year, the Ministry of Finance announced on Friday.

Looking at the full year 2022 projections, real GDP is expected to grow by 8 percent, while the inflation in 2022 may record about 2.6 percent.

Looking at the next year’s projections, Saudi total revenues are expected to reach about SR1.12 trillion in 2023, while reaching about 1.21 trillion in 2025, according to the Ministry of Finance's preliminary statement of the state's general budget for the year 2023.

Total expenditures are expected to reach about SR1.11 trillion in the next fiscal year 2023, and that the expenditure ceiling will reach about SR1.13 trillion in 2025.

The objectives of the state's general budget for the fiscal year 2023 come as a continuation of the process of work to strengthen and develop the financial position of the Kingdom, the finance minister said.

“The government attaches great importance to enhancing the support and social protection system and accelerating the pace of strategic spending on Vision programs and major projects to support economic growth,” Mohammed Al-Jadaan said.

The Kingdom’s economy has demonstrated its strength and durability by achieving high growth rates, after taking many policies and measures with the aim of protecting the economy from the repercussions of inflation and supply chain challenges, he added.

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Deals worth over $27bn available for Saudi businesses with leading national firms

Deals worth over $27bn available for Saudi businesses with leading national firms
Updated 30 September 2022

Deals worth over $27bn available for Saudi businesses with leading national firms

Deals worth over $27bn available for Saudi businesses with leading national firms

RIYADH: Saudi companies are being encouraged to tap into investment deals and contracts worth more than SR100 billion ($26.62 billion) with two of the Kingdom’s biggest firms.

Representatives from the Saudi Electricity Co. and the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation — also known as SABIC — unveiled various opportunities for firms in the Kingdom to work with them during workshops organized by the Federation of Saudi Chambers, according to Saudi Press Agency.

The Saudi Electricity Co. set out its strategy for the localization of the electricity industries, known as ‘Bena’, which aims to encourage and support local manufacturing.

It also includes three initiatives: to raise the percentage of localization in the company's projects; increase the purchases of materials from national factories; and identify investment opportunities required to be localized.

The firm indicated the volume of future demand for or purchases and contracts is expected to reach SR100 billion.

SABIC explained that the investment opportunities under the umbrella of its Nusaned initiative to enhance local content, contributed to supporting economic development with more than $1 billion of gross domestic product.

The company approved 43 investment opportunities, with the total investment opportunities amounting to 351 opportunities.

The number of investors has reached 183, while the number of feasibility studies has hit 74.