New Saudia chief vows to improve customer service

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The new boss of Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has promised to improve customer services in his first speech since being appointed.

Saleh bin Nasser Al Jasser, who took over as director general of the kingdom’s publicly owned airline company on Sunday, also vowed to strengthen the flag carrier as it progressively privatised its subsidiaries.

“We will encourage a spirit of initiative and innovation to improve the level of performance and customer services,” Al Jasser told senior Saudia officials and employees, as reported by Arab News.

“We will give top priority to customers in order to maximise satisfaction.”

The airline angered residents earlier this year when it announced its first ticket price increase in 15 years.

The heavily subsidised and fixed fares now incur a 3 percent surcharge when purchased within 10 days of departure.

The airline also is likely to have to make other changes with the introduction of two privately owned carriers, given regulatory approval to help meet the kingdom’s burgeoning domestic demand.

Al Jasser said he had 12 key objectives, including modernising the fleet and increasing both domestic and international destinations. The airline announced in February it would expand to 200 destinations – twice its current number - but did not reveal a timeline.

He also would accelerate the privatisation of the airline’s subsidiaries.

“We should set out plans to increase and diversify revenues, rationalize expenditures and boost operational efficiency. We should strengthen the airline’s competitive position and all affiliated companies should work as a single team,” Al Jasser reportedly told staff members.

“I have been associated with Saudia as a citizen since my childhood and later, as a member of its board of directors. We have to work together to take our airline to new heights of progress making use of its potentials and opportunities.

“We have to set out strategies and plans to confront dangers and challenges.”

Al Jasser was named director general in June and replaces Khaled Al Molhem.

He has perviously served as the CEO of the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia since November 2010 and executive director general of the Abdullatif Company from 2003 to 2010.

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