Aug. 25, 2015

Nabil Khojah

Saudi Arabia

Nabil Khojah

CEO, Saudia Cargo

TBY talks to Nabil Khojah, CEO of Saudia Cargo, on the recent restructuring, expanding scope and capacity, and the advantages of operating in the Middle East.


After graduating from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Nabil Khojah joined Unilever, where he was promoted to various jobs including manager of business systems, manager of supply chain and logistics department, and manager of market demand planning. In 2003 he was appointed as the regional manager for logistics and imported products in Dubai until 2006, when he joined DHL Logistics as general manager for transport and logistics, and subsequent appointment as general manager of the company at its headquarters in Saudi Arabia, a position he held until he joined Saudi Airlines Cargo Co., Ltd.

What major developments or milestones have you witnessed over 2014?

Overall, 2014 was our best year yet. We hit record numbers volume wise, revenue wise, and profit wise. In addition, we hit record numbers in terms of utilization and efficiency. Over the past year, we have undergone significant changes and restructuring which has been embedded in the company. For example, our new revenue management department is now fully functional and has generated good value, our new CRM team is expanding the boundaries of customer relationships, and our charter department continues to provide customers with tailored solutions that meet specific needs. These are all examples of the many initiatives the team has taken on and as a result, we are seeing greater business efficiencies and stronger customer ties. Our aim is that 2015 will be focused on continuing the journey. We have other areas that we are going to be taking onboard, including an update of our operations. We will also be looking at restructuring our cargo ground handling business with the intent of upgrading our service levels and customer experience to a whole new level over the coming years. We have also taken on board a few new aircraft and will continue to grow our fleet capabilities in the coming years. We will also kick start our new facility construction in Jeddah this year. This will be a mega project to be completed over five phases, which will more than double our existing capacity while improving the quality and standards of our operations. We also have similar plans for an expansion in Riyadh, which we are progressing in parallel. At the heart of all of this lies our focus on people development and human capital, as none of this can be achieved without having the right people on the ground. Were currently investing heavily in people development and in grooming the leaders of the future, this will remain an area of focus over the coming year

Why has the Middle East seen almost double the growth rate in air cargo compared to the rest of the world?

The global growth in air cargo last year averaged 4%. Saudia Cargo achieved a growth of 11%, which is more than double the global average. It is important to highlight that all global air cargo companies are subject more or less to the same global economic conditions and various market dynamics. Any shift in global trade patterns impacts us equally. There are few aspects however that separates us from one another, one of them is access to global air traffic rights, another is having an advantageous geographic location, which allows for greater network span. Saudia Cargo's hubs are in the heart of the Middle East. This geographic location enables us to connect east with west, and north with south. Much of the cargo from the Far East transits through here to Africa, for example, or to Europe, and it is the same with cargo coming from Africa and transiting to Europe; it all comes via our hubs in Saudi Arabia. Being based in the Middle East allows us an advantageous location in the center of some key trade routes. Another key difference is that Saudi Arabia as a country is a genuine consumer of imported products and materials; it is not just a trading hub. Most of the cargo flown into Saudi is for domestic usage and consumption. We provide some of the best routes with direct access into Saudi. Still, we are all subject to the same international treaties, taxations, and economic conditions. If anything, we find that growth here comes with its many challenges.