PREFERRING ORGANIC GROWTH

Saudi Arabia 2018-19 | TRANSPORT & AVIATION | INTERVIEW

TAV Airports operates only one airport in Saudi Arabia, but the company is well-set, with tenders for three more airports and global accreditation, to reap the benefits of the Kingdom's upcoming economic boom.

Mustafa Sani Şener
BIOGRAPHY
Mustafa Sani Şener was appointed member of Board of Directors, President, and CEO of TAV Airport in 1997. Prior to his career at TAV Airports Holding, Şener served in various positions, from project manager to general manager, in many national and international projects. He got an executive education in the management of complex systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also gave a lecture at Harvard Business School on the school's TAV Airport case study. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Airports Council International and was elected the President of Foreign Economic Relations Board’s Turkish-French Business Council in 2012.

What role does Saudi Arabia play for the entire business portfolio of TAV Airports?

Medina Airport is the only airport in Saudi Arabia that is currently under operation of TAV Airports. In 2017, we won the tender for three additional airports in the Kingdom—Yanbu, Qassim, and Hail. We have signed the agreements, though we are waiting for the final go-ahead from the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA). The Kingdom is extremely important for us; therefore, with our partners, Al Rajhi Group, we have established PAN Airports Holding Group. This is the first private airport operations company in the Kingdom, and it will be handling operations of Medina Airport and the other three airports awaiting government approval. We will also have companies under the holding providing services such as duty free, F&B, and ground handling. Our main aim is to continue to invest in Saudi Arabia and the region in both airports and service companies, though our growth is not just limited to such inorganic growth. Organic growth is also an important part of our growth strategy. For example, when we started our operations in Medina Airport, the number of passengers per annum was 4 million compared to 8 million in recent years. Passenger numbers are extremely important because 1,000 direct jobs at the airport and another 1,000 in the city are created for every 1 million passengers. Our service companies bring high-quality services to Medina Airport, and we hope to do the same at other airports in Saudi Arabia. In addition, our IT support company, TAV Technologies, operates the IT systems for Medina and Dammam airports, which also adds significant value to the aviation industry in the country.

How does TAV Airports take advantage of the goals set out in Vision 2030 for the transportation sector?

Vision 2030 is extremely important, which is why we have positioned ourselves in line with it and established PAN Airports Holding Group. Privatization and infrastructure implementation are key for Saudi Arabia's further economic growth. The Kingdom's 2030 Vision opens doors for FDI and international trade. The country needs more roads, airports, and ports, and we can participate in this growth as an international airport operator and investor.

How does TAV Airports integrate with other airport operators worldwide?

It is about knowledge. The airport business is a sophisticated, international industry, and one has to know the business internationally. For example, 46% of TAV Airports holdings in Turkey belong to Aéroports de Paris (ADP), and we are partners with Fraport AG at Antalya Airport. In addition, VINCI Airports, which is another large airport operator in Europe, partners with ADP. In turn, ADP partners with the Schiphol Group. Therefore, when we look at these relationships, we are currently represented in one of the largest airport platforms in the world. With these operators, we handle 500 million passengers per year. TAV itself handles 150 million passengers.

What are your main plans and expectations in Saudi Arabia for the coming year?

We are extremely optimistic and excited for the future of Saudi Arabia under Vision 2030. Once we receive approval from GACA, we will immediately start to invest USD400 million in the three airports. We have already raised the required financing and are ready to go. Our other investment plans are for the terminal buildings because we want to add more passenger capacity to Saudi Arabia.