In a significant milestone for Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry, Red Sea Global (RSG) recently celebrated the inaugural flight of Fly Red Sea, its subsidiary company and the kingdom’s first seaplane service. This launch aligns with RSG’s expansive vision to develop world-class, regenerative tourism destinations, including The Red Sea and Amaala.
Fly Red Sea has been established to whisk visitors across waters to The Red Sea’s island resorts, such as the St. Regis Red Sea Resort and Nujuma, a Ritz Carlton Reserve property. It stands as a pioneering venture in the country, designed to elevate the travel experience in the region.
“As a pilot myself, I was deeply invested in the efforts to build Fly Red Sea. Our goal was to create a company that would allow us to maintain high standards across every guest touchpoint, that would give us the platform to explore technologies to reduce the aviation industry’s carbon footprint, and which would prioritize giving skilled, rewarding career opportunities to the Saudi people. Fly Red Sea achieves this on every level,” said John Pagano, Group CEO of Red Sea Global.
The airline’s operations are managed by a team of aviation specialists, and it currently deploys a fleet of four Cessna Caravan 208 seaplanes. These aircraft feature luxurious, boutique-style interiors. As the destination’s development progresses, the fleet size will increase, with plans to expand to nine seaplanes by 2028 and exceed 20 by 2030.
Each seaplane can comfortably accommodate a pilot and up to six guests for trips to water-based resorts, or up to nine passengers for scenic tours spanning the entire destination.
One of Fly Red Sea’s key distinguishing features is its commitment to sustainability. The company has adopted the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for its seaplanes from the outset. Furthermore, it is actively exploring fully electric seaplanes and collaborating with ZeroAvia to trial retrofitting Cessna Caravan Seaplanes with hydrogen-electric propulsion technology.
In line with Saudi Arabia’s vision for national talent development, Fly Red Sea has issued the first Saudi seaplane captain’s license and hired the first seaplane-specific engineers at the destination. At Red Sea International Airport, which serves as Fly Red Sea’s homebase, a dedicated seaplane runway runs parallel to the primary terminal and will eventually encompass a dedicated seaplane terminal.
The Red Sea destination is set to open its doors to the first guests this year. Red Sea International Airport has been operational since receiving its first flights last month, and the first two hotels are now accepting reservations. Upon full completion in 2030, the destination will feature 50 resorts, offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. Additionally, it will include luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment, F&B, and leisure facilities. This ambitious project promises to reshape the landscape of Saudi tourism and provide an exceptional experience for travelers from around the world.