How has the company performed in 2018 so far, and what have been the major developments?
The major development for us in 2018 was our strategy deployment and transformation. We kicked off our transformation journey to become a regional leader by providing world-class services, which is our new redefined vision, and started delivering on the strategy we promised. With a stronger financial situation and clarity in our operational focus, we started the journey of excellence. We have a clear plan and strategic initiatives in place with a key focus on five pillars: safe operations, efficient operations, human capital development, financial effectiveness, and strategic partnership building. In 2018, we are focusing more on safety and reliability and adding the human factor. In addition, our financial situation is solid, and we are focusing on being more effective to support and grow our business. We reach out to our customers and receive feedback on how to improve, because one of our strategic objectives is regarding customer engagement. Airlines have high expectations from us, and we should be able to meet them. We do not just want to operate, but also elevate our operations to a standard that meets our regulatory requirements and satisfies our customers.
How will you carry out your new strategy?
The new strategy is a three-year plan. In 2018, the first year, the focus was on operational standardization and strengthening the foundations, starting with putting in place a strong safety system and culture. Then we identified our infrastructure requirements, including surveillance and communication systems, that need to be upgraded to the latest technology, followed by ensuring our employees have the best-in-class development and working conditions. We see 2018 as the operations standardization year, while 2019 will be about optimization and control and 2020 is to ensure sustainability and innovation. It is critical that our operation systems are at optimum standards. For this, we signed a SAR100-million contract with INDRA to replace the overall ATM navigation system. Implementation is already in place; the Abha region has been completed, and we plan to have it fully operational by early 2020. In addition, multiple contracts have been signed to upgrade and replace our navigation surveillance and voice communication systems across the country.
What investment is needed in Saudi Arabia to ensure the safe and efficient flow of air traffic?
We have to define where we are and where we want to be. Second, we need to have a strong and agreed operation plan among the industry stakeholders in order to manage complexity and support growth. In our case, we are investing in technology and people, which are the concrete pillars for operations. We also have a project at SANS under government supervision called Saudi Future Airspace Capacity that will define how the airspace in Saudi Arabia will look in 20 years based on several variables and future requirements, so we have a clear investment and growth plan in place.
How can foreign investors contribute to the development of the aviation sector?
Saudi Arabia is a great place for future investors thanks to Vision 2030, and specifically in the aviation industry where all key players are transforming to meet our great vision and ambitions. There are big players in the navigation sectors market that are already a partner or will partner with local players for investment. And with our Saudization plan and local added value, these companies are partnering with us and offering the latest technology, all aligned with future plans. We are working with different industry leaders to bring the latest technology and systems to Saudi Arabia. For example, we are partnering with INDRA to support air navigation technical service as well as other potential business areas such as synchronized operation services in airports through collaboration systems.