Saudia Cargo all set to fly high

Published: Sunday, April 17, 2016

Saudia Cargo is today, recognized as one of
the leading air cargo carriers in the Middle East with wide global reach and an
extensive network spanning four continents, the airliner’s cargo division
operates a large fleet of dedicated freighters and offers ample capacity on its
passenger flights across Asia, Africa, Europe and the USA.

Through its multiple home-based hubs, the
airliner enjoys increased flexibility in selecting from a wider range of
connectivity options to deploy its capacity more effectively, moving its cargo
with minimal ground handling time. It also offers scheduled and charter
services on its freighters and belly hold capacities and also works with
interline airline partners.

Being strategically located in the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia, Saudia Cargo enjoys a unique flexibility, positioned to provide a
bridge between East and West.
We spoke to the CEO of the cargo
provider Nabil Khojah on an array of topics. Excerpts from the interview:

confirmed the delivery of a new Boeing 777 aircraft in 2015 to expand its fleet
to 13 planes.  Are you planning to take up more deliveries of freighters
in 2016?

After the
delivery of the fourth Boeing 777 aircraft in December 2015, our freighter
fleet has now increased to 16 aircrafts. As a growing business entity, we
continuously check for options to further optimize the size and configuration
of our fleet.

How are you
planning to compete with other carriers from the Gulf region? What are the
company’s growth strategies for the coming years?

Our strategy
focuses on modernizing our fleet, maintaining our schedule integrity,
continuously optimizing our network, developing our IT capability and improving
our service levels through the enhancement of infrastructure at our mainline
airports in Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, and Madinah.

Saudia Cargo
launched a new direct freighter service between Shanghai and New Delhi in 2015
end. You also deployed your first 777 Freighter to Mumbai during the same
period. Is Asia especially India increasingly acquiring important positions in
your growth portfolio?

The Far East
and Indian subcontinent regions have always been important markets for us.
India and China are well known export markets where Saudia Cargo enjoys good
market share. It is our endeavor to further strengthen our positions with
additional frequencies and stronger presence.

Which are
the new countries and regions you are planning to operate in the near future?

We continue
to operate a global network across many regions and have recently announced new
destinations such as the Maldives, Ankara and Munich. Our focus in the near
future will lean more towards increasing frequencies and strengthening our
position in key markets.


How e-Airway
Bill compliant are you? What are the measures taken by the airliner to be 100 %
e-AWB complaint?

Saudia Cargo
is e-AWB compliant to a great extent. Our worldwide penetration has reached
40.2% which slightly exceeds the industry average. Saudia Cargo implemented
IATA’s Single Process in e-AWB acceptance and the notice of activation is being
pursued continuously with those agents that have signed the IATA’s Multilateral
e-AWB Agreement.

Are you
looking to embark upon any innovative new product lines?

is important to us in Saudia Cargo. In addition to our extended product range,
we recently launched our new Pharma product last year and are working on
developing it further. We are also testing a few other new products which we
intend on launching in the near future.

Are you
considering introduction of On Board Courier (OBC) services any time in the

OBC is one
of the products that are being considered for the medium term. We are, however,
at the early stages and will see how things develop over the coming months
before we decide on adding the same to our product portfolio.

The Kingdom opened
its first air cargo village in a much publicized manner during the close of
2015. How do you think this will help the carriers in the region? It is also
touted to compete with the Dubai International Airport Cargo Gateway. Your
reactions to this?

This would definitely help the carriers.
Airports with extensive air cargo connectivity and capacity have competitive
trade, production and commercial development advantages over those that do not.
Such advantages are fundamental to attracting investment, creating jobs and
driving economic development around these airports and throughout their broader

What are
your future projections for the air cargo industry?

It’s no
secret that the air cargo industry is under stress given the current global economic
climate. Surplus capacity and lower fuel costs have exerted higher pressures on
yields. We project that volume growth will continue at the 4% – 6% rate.
Revenue growth will be slower if yields continue to drop.

Khojah has over 17 years of professional experience in a varied of industries
spanning Supply Chain, Logistics, Information Technology and FMCG. He took over
as the CEO of Saudia Cargo early 2013.

joining Saudia Cargo, Mr. Khojah served as the Country Managing Director for
DHL Supply Chain in KSA, where he spent 7 years on expanding and developing a
logistics and supply chain business serving customers from various industry
sectors including Oil & Gas, Healthcare, FMCG, and Technology. Prior
to this assignment, he worked with Unilever where he held numerous leadership
positions in the areas of Business Systems, Supply Chain Management and