Sep. 7, 2021

Gerold Tumulka

Saudi Arabia

Gerold Tumulka

CEO, Swissport Middle East

“There was an immediate reaction and complete lockdown in Saudi Arabia.”


Gerold Tumulka is the CEO for Swissport Middle East. Prior to this, he was COO of National Aviation Services in Kuwait and CEO of Friedrichshafen Airport.

How has the pandemic impacted your business and what have you done internally to adjust to the current reality and plan for future change?

There was an immediate reaction and complete lockdown in Saudi Arabia. Public life came to a standstill. The government lockdown also affected the economic side of our sector. International arrivals, which make up 98% of total arrivals, slid, dramatically denting the aviation industry. The Kingdom's air transport fell 80% initially almost overnight, spelling dire conditions for any company involved in the sector. Swissport Saudi Arabia had to take drastic measures, although we have tried to avoid layoffs and have government support on that. Certain Middle Eastern countries have government support packages similar tothe furlough regulations or short-term work packages being used in Europe.

Do you compete on quality of service or price, and how are you evolving that offering?

For the airlines, Swissport is a known entity, and there are a number of them to which we can offer packages with 50, 60, or sometimes even 70 stations across the globe in multiple countries. We make sure that whenever it says Swissport on the outside, there is Swissport on the inside. We are keen on maintaining our high-quality standards, which is a key element in the way we work and the way our customers see us. Obviously, there is an economic and a cost side to it as well. But a customer coming to Swissport, knowing Swissport, knows very well what they will get. Being able to offer airlines a network of stations brings benefits to our customers. Our approach in all of our stations worldwide is to be an inclusive provider—so to cover as many sectors and services as possible in step with the regulatory framework in respective countries.