The airline industry is perhaps as competitive as it has ever been. Technology has truly made the world a smaller place and in turn, demand for flights has steadily increased. All of which is a far cry from the time when Royal Jordanian, the national carrier for the Kingdom of Jordan, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, first took to the skies.
At that time, December 15th, 1963, to be precise, King Hussein Bin Talal had a clear vision for the airline:
“I want our national carrier to be the ambassador of goodwill and the bridge across which we exchange culture, civilization, trade, technology, friendship and better understanding with the rest of the world.”
In those fledgling years Royal Jordanian operated flights to three destinations: Beirut, Cairo and Kuwait. Today the airline is truly living the dream of His Royal Highness, with 60 destinations across 4 continents.
The airline plays an important role across the Levant region, with many neighbouring countries operating limited services which do not include flights to North America or the Far East.
“We are definitely growing,” affirms Anwar Atalla, Head of Marketing, Commercial Department, “we are increasing the number of passengers and the number of flights each year.
“That is partly because we are the Airline of Choice in the Levant area and whilst tourism figures have dropped in recent times, this has not affected our overall growth.
“The airline spread its network over a number of years and our first European destination was Rome – which meant we had links to all of the holy cities, including Jerusalem. In 1977 we became the first Arab and Middle Eastern airline to fly to North America when we launched a route to New York. By the 1980s the business really started to grow as we acquired a fleet of L10 11 aircraft which gave us greater capability for long haul flights. I think that we are now the premium airline in this region,” he continues.
Right back at the start of things, under the guidance of His Majesty King Abdullah II, the airline operated 3 aircraft, a figure that has now risen to 32 planes, including 2 freight aircraft, as Royal Jordanian has become one of the elite members of the global alliance known as oneworld, having become a member in 2007.
Headquartered in Amman, in December 2011 the company moved to a new head office away from the airport as “the airline felt it should own its own building” according to Atalla. Of course links to the local Queen Alia International Airport remain essential and the company’s Amman City Terminal at 7th Circle provides a central locale for sales and early boarding services.
If the services have a modern feel to them, that is an aspect fully endorsed by Royal Jordanian’s approach to the changing world of marketing also, as Atalla explains:
“Traditional marketing is being replaced by online media and SMS texting. With the modern multimedia approach you can contact the customer directly and also receive immediate feedback. We are moving towards online advertising and promotion and we’ve seen very positive results in our customer interaction through various social media outlets and Google ad words.
“But technology also plays a part in sales and most of our ticketing nowadays is ticketless,” he continues.
The latest innovation has been the launch on April 21st of Royal Jordanian’s official You Tube channel, including a brand new corporate campaign video. The launch marks a part of the company’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
The objective of the video is to explain RJ’s history and accomplishments over the past 50 years, highlighting the various programs and activities that brought the company and its employees to the level witnessed today.
Nabil Sawalha, a well-known Jordanian actor and comedian, is starring in the You Tube video, together with a number of Royal Jordanian employees.
As the company continues to embrace the potential of social media, it will also run a competition on Facebook and Twitter, with a view to increasing traffic to the channel and engaging more users with this new platform.
Given the popularity of You Tube – and its proven track record for providing a platform for companies to attract more customers, Royal Jordanian plans to share its newest services, destinations and events, to familiarize the public with its undertakings, via the website.
Of course the world-wide web gives an international airing to the business, which also this April further reinforced its place on the global aerospace market with the announcement of a new training partnership with the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Under the terms of the agreement, Royal Jordanian is now able to deliver IATA training courses aimed at helping students and aviation professionals in Jordan and the region to enhance their professional competencies to meet IATA’s standards.
Through this partnership, RJ will become a major IATA-accredited training center in the region benefiting by that from the international quality recognition to the company’s training activities.
The contract was signed at Royal Jordanian’s headquarters by the organisation’s President and CEO Amer Hadidi, in collaboration with IATA’s Regional Vice President-Middle East and North Africa Hussein Dabbas and IATA’s Head of Global Partnership and Learning Innovation Ismail Al Baidhani.
Commenting on the partnership and just what it means to Royal Jordanian, Hadidi said: “We are proud of our human resources capabilities that allowed us to become one of the professional training centers accredited by IATA, as this will enhance our educational mission. RJ will be supporting the activities and initiatives of IATA by delivering quality training gained through the airline’s 50 years of legacy and know how.”
He added that through this partnership, RJ will be able to spread its knowledge and experience in the market and contribute to the development of the air transport industry by extending its training potential and opening up opportunities for the coming generation of aviation professionals in Jordan and the region.
“This IATA Authorized Training Center – run by RJ’s Human Resources and Administration Department – is bound to empower its students and trainees with knowledge, competency and skills for more sustainable and effective business practices,” added Hadidi.
News of the IATA training partnership came hot on the heels of the announcement that the airline is to start operating direct cargo flights between Amman and Frankfurt from May 2013.
Initially the airline will scheduled one flight per week but this is expected to increase to three by 2014.
VP Cargo Sales and Services Muath Majali said the feasibility study RJ conducted for the German market revealed the importance of a cargo route connecting Amman and Frankfurt. He stressed that the route will support Jordanian exports of fruits, vegetables and medicine to the German market. It is also bound to support the national economy by stimulating cooperation and understanding partnerships between Jordan and Germany, in addition to boosting the trade volume between them.
The route will also enhance the movement of transit cargo destined for Germany via Amman, coming mainly from Hong Kong, Bangkok, Colombo, Delhi and the Arab Gulf on RJ passengers’ aircraft, whilst also German exports, including car spare parts, construction tools, industrial and printing equipment and industrial kits to Jordan and the region, in addition to the Far East.
Further encouraging news broke at the end of March with the announcement that Royal Jordanian had made a net profit of JD1.1m (US$1.6m) during 2012 as a result of carrying more passengers and reducing its costs.
The Amman-based airline carried 3.4m passengers last year, an increase of 6 per cent on the previous year as the seat factor increased to 73 per cent from 70 percent in 2011.
Royal Jordanian has said it aims to increase its capital to JD184.3m from JD84.3m.
With plans to overhaul its existing fleet with Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner from 2014, the modern face of Royal Jordanian looks set to continue its transformation.