Six senior figures leading the development of the kingdom’s airline industry are: Bruce Ashby, Jubarah bin Eid al-Suraisi, Abdullah Rehaimi, Khalid Abdullah Almolhem, Sulaiman Abdullah al-Hamdan and Walter Prenzler
Position: Chief executive officer (CEO), Sama Airlines
Biography: Bruce Ashby joined Sama Airlines as CEO in December 2008. The low-cost airline began operations in March 2007 and today serves 15 destinations, both within Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East. Under his leadership, the carrier has undergone a significant overhaul of its schedule and operations, which has resulted in some international destinations being removed from the network, and the frequency of flights increased to the remaining destinations. Sama has reported improved on-time performance and financial results. Ashby has more than 20 years’ experience in the airline industry. Prior to joining Sama, he led India’s budget carrier IndiGo as president and CEO through its launch and initial growth from 2005 to 2008. He has also served in senior management positions at US Airways, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, all of the US.
Contact Tel: (+966) 1203 6112
Jubarah bin Eid al-Suraisi
Position: Transport Minister
Biography: Jubarah bin Eid al-Suraisi was appointed Transport Minister in 2003, and has overseen the most radical overhaul of Saudi Arabia’s transport infrastructure in the nation’s history. Under his supervision, the aviation sector witnessed increasing levels of privatisation, with some elements of flag carrier Saudia’s supply chain being divested, the entry of two budget airlines Sama and Nas Air, and the possibility of a privately managed airport in the new economic city at Hail. Plans were announced in 2008 to liberalise airports. Before becoming transport minister, Al-Suraisi spent 14 years at the Finance & Economy Ministry, joining as an assistant deputy minister in 1989 and then deputy finance minister for eight years from 1995. Al-Suraisi also spent seven years in Washington DC in the US, working for four years at the International Monetary Fund, before joining the World Bank.
Contact Tel: (+966) 1404 3000
Position: President, General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca)
Biography: Abdullah Rehaimi was appointed Gaca President in 2003, where he is overseeing a shake-up of the aviation sector. Before joining Gaca, Rehaimi spent 26 years at the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, a government-owned lending institution, where he held a range of managerial positions before being appointed director. He holds directorships at the local National Co-operative Insurance Company, National Commercial Bank and United Insurance Company of Bahrain. He is currently a member of the executive council of the Arab Civil Aviation Commission and was appointed chairman of Middle East Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation CEO committee in January 2010. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the King Fahd University of Petroleum & Mineral Sciences in Dhahran, in the Eastern Province.
Contact Tel: (+966) 2640 5000
Khalid Abdullah Almolhem
Position: Director general, Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia)
Biography: Since taking over in 2006, Almolhem has prioritised the privatisation of Saudi Arabia’s national airline and has been credited with achieving a turnaround in its commercial viability. Within his first six months, he divided the maintenance, catering, cargo, training and ground handling operations into individual units with a view to selling them off. A 49 per cent stake in the group’s catering unit and a 30 per cent holding in its cargo operation have now been sold. He is also directing an overhaul of the carrier’s fleet. Almolhem has served as president of telecoms operator Saudi Telecom from 1998 to 2003, where he oversaw the firm’s successful flotation and restructuring of the business. Almolhem was also CEO of the Al-Marai Dairy Company, one of the country’s largest listed firms, and held various positions over nine years at the local bank Sabb.
Contact Tel: (+966) 2686 2203
Sulaiman Abdullah al–Hamdan
Position: CEO, National Air Services
Biography: Sulaiman Abdullah al-Hamdan was appointed to his current role in November 2008. Established in 1999, National Air Services (Nas) aims to be the leading provider of diversified aviation services in the region. It plans to list on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul), but no date for this has been set. Nas operates a fleet of 23 aircraft. Al-Hamdan previously served as deputy managing director of local lender Sabb, where he was responsible for all customer-facing departments in the bank including corporate and private banking. Al-Hamdan was appointed a board member of Middle East Specialised Cables Company in January 2008, Al-Sorayai Trading & Industrial Group in March 2008 and Saudi Hollandi Capital in May 2008. He has also served as a board member for the Saudi Public Transportation Company for two years. Al-Hamdan holds an MBA from the University of New Haven, Connecticut, in the US.
Contact Tel: (+966) 1217 1800
Position: CEO Commercial Airlines, NasAir
Biography: Walter Prenzler was appointed CEO Commercial Airlines for NasAir in October 2008. A unit of the Nas Group, NasAir was launched in February 2007 as the kingdom’s first low-cost carrier. Based in Riyadh, it currently operates 350 weekly flights to 24 destinations within and outside Saudi Arabia. In February, NasAir announced it will be launching four direct flights a week to Mumbai from the end of March and plans to add routes to other Indian cities. Prenzler has had a long career in the industry, which stretches back to 1980 when he was appointed as manager of route planning with German airline Lufthansa in Cologne. He went on to serve in other key roles at Lufthansa, including regional director of passenger services for the Middle East and Pakistan from 1996 to 1998 and as a managing consultant and vice-president of Asia sales from 2003 to 2008, when he was based in Indonesia and Singapore.
Contact Tel: (+966) 1217 1800
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