INTERVIEW: Adel Al Ali
Adel Al Ali, CEO of the region’s first low-cost airline, Air Arabia, talks expansion plans and dealing with increasing competition.
June 27, 2012 11:15 by kippreport
The region’s first low-cost carrier (LCC) Air Arabia is looking at expansion in Africa by strengthening its North African hubs – Egypt and Morocco. The sustained growth and success experienced by Sharjah-based and Dubai-listed airline is a result of solid corporate policies. Air Arabia Chief Executive Officer, Adel Al Ali talks about the finer points of a successful business strategy.
What is the secret behind the success achieved by Air Arabia in a short space of time?
I think with any business, you set up a mindset, and probably the mindset of Air Arabia from the start was that we are in a business that has to attempt to make money and not lose money. Our business happens to be an airline. We should never lose our focus that this is a very expensive, a very moving and extremely competitive business. You make sure that everybody at all levels is aware of those key objectives of the company, so our vision and mission is very clear throughout the company to be a profitable business.
But your idea of making money was backed by something more fundamental?
Of course, luck always helps you in a year, at a time, in a day, but luck alone doesn’t help you for eight consecutive years. It is a lot of work and a lot of people have to be driven by a very clear strategy. It is very important that your strategy remains very simple and realistic. Our strategy is not to be the biggest airlines in the world because we simply cannot be as we don’t have the world’s biggest population, nor do we have the world’s biggest numbers of airports. Therefore, when you set up a realistic and simple strategy it is easily understood.
Until now we have not been distracted by the excitement of the aviation industry for expansion and we never forget that we are here for a particular business reason and we have got shareholders that have given us their money to look after. While taking any business step we remember our commitment to the shareholders, and that makes Air Arabia different.
How big is your freight business?
Freight is complementary to our business. Our business is very much based on passenger movement. Each of about 30 Air Arabia aircraft takes off and lands six times in a day, so in 365 days that becomes quite a large number of flights, and each of those flights have got at least three tons of space for freight. We focus on small parcels or courier mails and so on, and it is a good increment to revenue to our bottom line that we carry, but we are not big in freight business.