FTE APEX Virtual Expo 2021: Saudia CEO on Vision 2030 and attracting 100 million tourists
Day 2 of FTE APEX Virtual Expo 2021 (26 May 2021) included a ‘Fireside Chat’ with Capt Ibrahim Koshy, CEO Saudia Airlines, conducted by Shashank Nigam, Founder & CEO, SimpliFlying. He shared his perspective on relaunching global air transport, and what differentiates Saudia from other airlines in the region.
Saudia Airlines recently marked its 75th anniversary during the most challenging time the aviation industry has ever experienced. “One of the lessons the past has taught us is to take care of our team, our frontline staff, and all of the Saudia family,” began Capt Ibrahim Koshy, CEO Saudia Airlines. “Going forward, we’ll continue being the caring employer, so our team can give their best to our guests onboard.”
Saudia has a large domestic market, with a network serving 28 domestic cities and Koshy highlighted that as a key differentiator from other airlines in the region. “Another thing that differentiates us is having Mecca and Medina, the two holy cities in Islam, and we have many people from all over the world who travel here annually. So, we have a strong domestic market and a strong religious market.”
Significantly, Saudia has been certified at the “hospital-grade” Diamond level of the APEX Health Safety powered by SimpliFlying programme, which recognises preparedness to deal with passenger-related health and hygiene challenges presented by COVID-19. “Being recognised at the Diamond level is something we’re very proud of,” said Koshy. “Saudia tried to gain the confidence of its passengers and crew by providing decontamination kits and PPE for the crew, and by introducing new cleaning protocols. We’ve invested in new technologies, such as HEPA filters and advanced UVC sterilisation technology onboard all of our aircraft. It has restored passenger confidence on our domestic flights.”
Saudia has also been investing in a contactless travel experience as part of its efforts to continuously improve the customer journey. Indeed, while some of the new health safety protocols are here to stay, Koshy emphasised that the customer experience remains a priority.
Saudi Vision 2030
Saudi Vision 2030, the strategic framework to diversify the economy, is what is driving Saudia’s own plans. “It’s not just an opportunity that’s improving travel, it’s the vision of a nation that we’re contributing to in the travel and tourism sector,” said Koshy. “When we talk about Saudi Vision 2030, we’re talking about attracting 100 million tourists that did not come to Saudia Arabia previously. We’re very excited about all of the mega projects taking place.”
Looking ahead, Saudia plans to build a true hub and enhanced connectivity from its new home – the new Terminal 1 at King Abdulaziz International Airport. “So, whether travelling to Saudi Arabia or connecting via Terminal 1 it will be a very different experience.”
Airlines and airports can register for a free access-all-areas pass, including the virtual exhibition hall, conference sessions, and networking areas.