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Friday, 04 March 2011  |  Rabiʻ I 29, 1432  | Last updated at 00:23
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HOME /  SAUDI ARABIA /  SAUDIA AIMS TO BECOME REGIONAL MARKET LEADER

Saudia aims to become regional market leader
A Saudi Arabian Airlines passenger plane soars high.
By P.K. ABDUL GHAFOUR | ARAB NEWS
Published: Mar 1, 2011 00:26 Updated: Mar 1, 2011 00:29
JEDDAH: Improve on customer care was the final message of Saudi Arabian Airlines' annual conference that ended here Monday. Abdul Aziz Al-Hazmi, deputy director general of the airline, emphasized this point further, saying: "We consider our passengers not just as our customers but as our guests."
Speaking to Arab News at the conclusion of the two-day meeting, which was attended by about 500 managers and top executives of the national carrier from across the world, Al-Hazmi said Saudia wanted to regain its position as a market leader in the region.
"We have recognized some of the issues and introduced intensive training programs for our frontline staff and retrain existing staff," he said when asked about measures taken to address increasing complaints about poor services.
"We have introduced a new program to carefully select frontline staff on the basis of certain criteria. We'll give them intensive training for six months before placing them in their positions," he said. Thousands of employees have already undergone training.
Asked whether the airline's management was taking any punitive measures against negligent staff, Al-Hazmi said: "Absolutely, if our customers face any difficulty with our staff, they have to call us or write to us. We will definitely take action."
He disclosed plans to transform Saudia's Haj and Umrah division into a strategic business unit considering the growing number of pilgrims. He also indicated plans to establish a special airline in the future for Haj and Umrah service, if it was found economically feasible.
Hazmi said the conference discussed industry developments at regional and global levels. "The managers who came from different parts of the world will share the conference's message with their team members in their respective areas in order to make action plans and achieve corporate goals," he said.
 
'We are changing'
The conference gave the impression that Saudia is changing, a prerequisite to become a leading airline in the world, attract more passengers and increase revenue. Before the end of the conference, the participants held each others' hands and declared, "we are changing" in a symbolic gesture.
Khaled Al-Molhem, director general, opened the conference on Sunday and emphasized his organization's strategic plans to become a customer-oriented airline, by improving its services in all operation areas matching with SkyTeam alliance standards.
A number of international experts were present to motivate delegates. John Tschohl, called the "Guru of Customer Service" by USA Today, Time, and Entrepreneur magazines, gave a lecture on "Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service." There were presentations on the airline's privatization program as well as Skytrax project to win 4-star rating from the agency.
Shawgi Mushtag, executive vice president for privatization, said the project for the privatization of the core-airline unit has been presented to the government for approval. He said the privatization of the technical service sector and Prince Sultan Aviation Academy would take place in the third and fourth quarters of this year.
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MOHAMMAD ALI
Mar 1, 2011 01:23
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For Saudia, please teach your flight attendants to be courteous and cordial, especially if one passenger is asking for water...I experienced I asked for water and the Saudia flight attendant just stared at me and went away....She, as if, didnt hear my clamor for water....The reason I asked for water because the plane took off their aircon inside while we are still in Jeddah airport bound to Riyadh and it was really warm inside the plane...

MOHAMMAD ALI
Mar 1, 2011 01:23
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I hope this will not be a joke...
NISHTHAR IDROOS
Mar 1, 2011 01:37
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Training is the core of a successful airline business. Its a sensorial experience the passenger goes through and a well trained staff tangibalize this process.
DENTON
Mar 1, 2011 11:43
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And who is going to bring about these "amazing" changes in the culture of Saudia???? The same people who presently run this disaster that is the national airline !! As usual, NOTHING will change. 5 or 10 years from now people will still be talking about this airline's abyssmal attitude to its "Guests" and its almos totalt lack of customer service.

BARBARA
Mar 1, 2011 11:45
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I hope that someone brings the comments to the preceding article " Saudia aims to become customer-oriented airlines" to the attention of Abdul Aziz Al-Hazmi, deputy director general of the airline.

When asked whether the airline's management was taking any punitive measures against negligent staff, Al-Hazmi said: "Absolutely, if our customers face any difficulty with our staff, they have to call us or write to us. We will definitely take action."

I noticed that neither the phone number nor the address was included.

If they were serious about improving customer relations, they would have well trained, efficient and effective managers at the airports to solve most problems as they arise. Who wants to wait days or months for an issue to be resolved?

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