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Suleiman Obeidat Suleiman Obeidat

Q & A with Suleiman Obeidat, CEO, Royal Jordanian Airlines

THE YEAR 2015 MARKED THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA FOR ROYAL JORDANIAN AIRLINES (RJ) AS THE COMPANY EMBARKED ON A METICULOUSLY PLANNED FIVE-YEAR BUSINESS STRATEGY THAT HAS ALREADY BEGUN TO

BEAR FRUIT AS SULEIMAN OBEIDAT, CEO, RJ, REVEALS. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How is the 2015 – 2019 plan supporting RJ's regional and global competitiveness?

SULEIMAN OBEIDAT: It is one of the six pillars of the five-year business plan to increase the market share locally and internationally.

This business plan is characterised by its continuity, for instance it is a business plan for 2015 – 2019, 2016 – 2020 and 2017 – 2021 and so on

Therefore, RJ will work on the dimensions of this pillar in parallel with the other five pillars for the development and progress of RJ in order to reach the targeted position.

The competitiveness of RJ is exemplified in its inflight and ground services as well as in its new and modern fleet of aircraft with an average age of five years; it is, thus, one of the youngest fleets of aircraft in the world when compared to the International Air Transport Association's statistics.

One very significant advantage of the RJ network is its connectivity, including RJ's connectivity, the oneworld carriers' connectivity and our codeshare partners' route networks that enable RJ passengers to reach further points beyond Amman.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: As part of its transformation, RJ ceased operations to a number of destinations and launched services to high-demand locations, such as Tabuk, Najaf, Ankara, Jakarta and Guangzhou. What are the cornerstones of RJ's expansion strategy?

SULEIMAN OBEIDAT: As mentioned earlier, reviewing the network is one of the pillars of the five-year business plan. Being part of this pillar, RJ closed eight destinations for commercial reasons, with the latest being Kiev, which proved to be unprofitable for the time being.

On the other hand, we opened five new destinations, with the latest being Guangzhou, which we launched in March this year.

The process of reviewing the route network is continuous [and it is] focussed on two features; opening new markets whether in the East or the West, and also reconsidering the already suspended destinations like Delhi, Mumbai and others. RJ now flies directly to 56 destinations and indirectly to over 1,000 points around the world on board the oneworld carriers, and the codeshare partners that count 15.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: As the national carrier of the Kingdom, RJ plays a pivotal role in the Jordan's socioeconomic growth. How will the successful implementation of the 2015-2019 business plan ensure that the airline remains a key vehicle for Jordan's development?

SULEIMAN OBEIDAT: This year, we succeeded to increase the airline capital by JOD100 million (USD141 million) to become JOD146.4 million (USD206 million), while before 2019, the capital will increase by another JOD100 million (USD141 million) to become JOD246.4 million (USD348 million).

This will give RJ the opportunity to grow […]. It will also give the airline a competitive advantage in regards with the fleet renewal. By 2019 – which is the end of the first phase of the plan – RJ will be running eight Boeing 787s in the fleet.

4It already has five, whereas the sixth will join the fleet towards the end of this year, the seventh at beginning of 2017 and the last one in 2018.

The modern fleet of the 787s along with the other new Airbus aircraft will give RJ the chance to expand and add new markets on different continents. Finally, increasing revenues and controlling costs is a major part of the business plan pillar.

The airline will work on implementing it continuously, and its results will directly reflect on the overall performance by that time, thus pave the way for better competitiveness for RJ's interest.

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