The Aviator: Faisal Ghazi Kayal, Managing Director, Saudia Private Aviation
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"How will you ever see eye to eye, if you’re never face to face?” It is this quote by Warren Buffet that Faisal Ghazi Kayal, Managing Director, Saudia Private Aviation (SPA), uses to illustrate the importance of the services that his company provides for the business community in the Middle East. Since it launched its commercial operations in 2009, SPA, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabian Airlines, has become one of the leading names in the region’s private aviation sector, and all signs point to the enterprise seeing a lot more growth in the years ahead- after all, the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) has predicted the regional business aviation industry to be worth around US$1.3 billion by 2020. “We are growing at a higher rate on a compounded annual growth rate [basis] in the region, compared to the worldwide average,” Kayal explains. “We are growing at almost 8%, whereas globally, we are talking about 6%.”
With these figures to look forward to, the Jeddah-headquartered SPA has also embarked on a privatization drive for its business, with Kayal calling the effort a strategic move in anticipation of the future. “At the end of the day, we look at the privatization as part of our efficiency [drive]- we don’t separate efficiency from privatization,” Kayal says. “What we are doing right now is becoming a totally separate entity from a commercial, organizational and financial point of view. I think this gives us the freedom to be able to be more dynamic and responsive to our market needs, and our customer needs as well.” And SPA’s attentiveness to its clientele is reflected in the functionalities it has incorporated in its official website. “Our website is an interactive point-of-sale website,” Kayal says. “We are one of the very few private aviation companies where you will be able to request for a quotation online, and then receive it in the privacy of your own email. You can request all of our services through our website, and you receive the confirmations for everything in your email. Plus, our website also offers a lot of good opportunities for [users to take advantage of] empty legs, with special offers to our clients.”
According to Kayal, providing a better customer experience through the SPA website is going to help build the company’s business and reputation in the market. “Private aviation tends to be a very closed sector,” he says. “We can turn this business into a much more globalized business by [virtue of customers] being able to interact [with us] through the website. Unlike the typical normal process where you have to go through a broker and everything, we have made it very transparent on our website, where you can request for your quotation, and get all the information you need easily.”
SPA’s offering of memberships for its clients is another way the company has been building (and growing) its customer base- its Silver, Gold and Platinum packages have been especially designed with a variety of incentives and offers to cater to passengers on all of their flights, be it the short domestic trips, or the long-haul international ones. “We want to keep our customers as our partners, by developing memberships for them,” Kayal explains. “What we have seen with the growth rate and the responsiveness of the market has encouraged us to go with a more aggressive strategic plan from 2014 for the next five years.”