Hussein Dabbas vice president passenger marketing, sales and services, spoke to TTN recently about its plans. Excerpts:
How has 2007 fared for Royal Jordanian Airlines?
The year 2007 was a very good year for Royal Jordanian with an 11 per cent increase in the number of passengers compared to 2006. The fleet carried 2,141,000 passengers during this period, against 1,8 million passengers in the corresponding months of 2006.
The seat factor increased from 66 per cent last year to 71 per cent this year, marking a seven per cent growth, an indication of the improvement in utilising the available seats, and thus of an increase in the revenues much more than the increase of the costs.
Departures registered an 18 per cent increase, with the airline operating 27,332 departures throughout the last eleven months, whereas it operated 23,214 departures for the same period last year. The aircraft mileage also grew from 47 million kilometres to 51 million kilometres, that is, by seven per cent.
What are the company’s plans for 2008?
The airline will be launching new routes in 2008. It already opened a gateway for Jordan to the People's Republic of China in January when it started operating a regular three weekly service to Hong Kong via Bangkok, in order to serve the active traffic between Jordan and China. The service is bound to increase to five flights in the coming summer.
Royal Jordanian's fleet currently consists of 26 aircraft; 23 are for passenger transportation, two for air freighting and one airliner, operated by Royal Wings, is dedicated for charter flights.
During this year, six modern and newly manufactured airplanes will join the fleet: two Embraer 175s, two Airbus A319s and two Airbus A321s. Two of the latter model currently operative in the fleet will be phased out.
The company also signed an agreement with CIT Aerospace International, one of the largest aerospace financing and leasing companies, for the operational lease of two Boeing 787s Dreamliner aircraft. The agreement includes leasing the two B787s for 12 years from the date of their assimilation in the fleet, in September 2012 and January 2013, to operate on the long-haul routes in North America and the Far East.
This agreement comes in line with the airline's strategy of modernising its long range fleet by introducing 12 newly manufactured B787s Dreamliner; four of which RJ contracted to purchase directly from Boeing and which will be delivered in 2013 and 2014. Eight other aircraft from renowned leasing companies will enter service through operational lease.
Recently, Royal Jordanian contracted with International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) to lease two B787s, to be delivered by the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, and it will soon sign a contract with the Low Cost Aircraft Leasing (LCAL) company to lease another three aircraft of the same type.
What is the company’s strategy in the face of competition?
The competition is high, however, the company will continue to work on its services for clients and will continue to modernise its long, medium and short haul fleet, in addition to bettering its services and entertainment facilities on the aircrafts.
Furthermore, Royal Jordanian's membership in the oneworld airline alliance has broadened its route network from 54 to 700 international destinations served by the alliance's members. Passengers can now fly from Amman to any of these destinations, with one stop only, on any of the oneworld member airlines. The oneworld alliance brings together some of the biggest names in the airline industry, among which American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.
What will be the biggest challenges facing you in the Middle East in 2008?
The biggest challenge we face, apart from the political situation, is the rise in fuel charges which is becoming a big challenge for airlines, including Royal Jordanian.