A ‘hot summer’ for Royal Jordanian

Although fuel prices have been rocketing, Royal Jordanian has seen growing demand at all its 55 destinations this year, because of its recently acquired modern fleet of aircraft, the electronic systems that it has fitted to upgrade its services and a host of other measures it has taken to combat rising fuel prices.

It’s efforts appear to be paying off, as the airline, which was recently awarded “Airline of the Year 2007” by the Air Finance Journal, recorded in May an improvement in its uplifted freight by 38 percent, flight frequency up by 16 per cent, flying hours by 20 per cent and aircraft mileage by 21 per cent versus the same month last year.

“In the first five months of this year, the airline’s flight frequencies rose by 16 percent, flying hours by 18 per cent, aircraft mileage by 19 per cent and the uplifted cargo by 25 per cent compared with the same period a year ago,” RJ’s president/CEO Samer Majali said.

The skyrocketing fuel prices cost the airline around JD26.5 million (US$37.4million) this May, in comparison to JD12.6 million with the same month last year, marking a 110 per cent increase, he said.

Commenting on soaring fuel prices, Majali said that the current fuel prices constitute a significant obstacle for all international airlines; as it stifled carriers’ ambitions to develop and modernise in order to become self-reliant companies.

In the case of RJ, the airline has started taking several measures designed to meet the rising fuel prices challenges which form around 45 per cent of the company’s overall operational expenses for the time being.

These measures include, among others, working to increase uplifted cargo by delivering quality services as well as following a fuel hedging policy.

Moreover, the airline has joined efforts with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to take some technical steps to reduce fuel consumption, especially in view of the fact that there is direct connection between the weight carried on board and the increase in fuel consumption.

A turning point in 2007

The year 2007 was pivotal for the airline, Majali said, having undergone an alliancewith big international airlines through OneWorld, and privatisation being the first Arab airline to be transferred to the private sector without a need for a strategic partner. By the end of 2007, the airlinehad also doubled its 2001-size in terms of financial revenues, flying hours, flights frequencies and others.

These strides opened new horizons for RJ’s cargo sectors, along with forcing service improvements, increase flight frequencies, destinations and upgrade the aircraft fleet, Majali said, adding that the airline’s most important improvement was its investment in IT.

Vice president Cargo, Ingo Roessler forecasted a “hot summer” of activities in all areas affecting service quality and security, including the introduction of new improved racking and semi-automated shelving at the Amman cargo terminal as of July this year.

State-of-the-art surveillance equipmentis to be mounted in all operational areas of the cargo terminal, as well as comprehensive access control in August.The airline will also introduce system-wide roll-out of the new Cargo IT platform Cargospot by September 2008. Further sizeable investments in the storage and processing facilities are planned for the next 24 months.

Cargospot will enable RJ to offer ebusinessfor the cargo agents worldwide; RJ will be able to feature and introduce all major industry initiatives, e.g., Cargo 2000, IATA e-freight, IATA CASS, EDI. FACT asthe new cargo system supports interfaces with most standardised protocols in the industry.

“The new cargo IT systems will lead to a quantum leap for RJ Cargo, enabling the company to reach new levels of customer service, market penetration and profitability for cargo services on the RJ flights, as well as for its third-party handling services offered at Queen Alia International Airport,”said Roessler.

The airline’s fleet modernisation programme includes Airbus A321, A320,A319, Embraer 195 and Embraer 175types. These aircraft started joining the fleet since 2006, bringing the number of new aircraft so far to 15. Three Airbus A319s and one Embraer 175 will join soon, at which time RJ will be operating 31 aircraft.