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Abdulaziz Al-Zaid
, CEO, 
Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS)

SAUDI ARABIA - Transport

Abdulaziz Al-Zaid

CEO, Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS)


Abdulaziz Al-Zaid has a proven track record of achievements and success, as he previously held the COO position of SANS for the last year, managing air traffic operation centers and towers as well as all the maintenance operation. Before his role in operation, he was the strategy and business development director in SANS, where he led the transformation movement in SANS when it was established in 2016 as separate entity independently from the regulator GACA. Prior to his career in SANS, Al-Zaid worked for more than 14 years in different multinational companies moving between technical operation, engineering, and consulting. He started his career in Procter & Gamble working in manufacturing and engineering field and his last role before joining SANS was vice president at Mckinsey & Co. Global consulting group.

“SANS will contribute to elevate the standards of the sector and accommodate all of that demand laid out as part of the national ambition strategy.”
As part of its future growth plans, SANS is looking to play a key role in developing and helping to influence the development of new technologies in the aviation sector.
How has air traffic management evolved in KSA, and what role does SANS play in the development of the industry?

Inspired and driven by Vision 2030, KSA’s aviation industry is quickly evolving. To date, we have almost 100 million passengers, and the target of 2030 is to reach 330 million. This would be huge growth, so in the future we have to exceed double-digit growth on an annual basis, which we are well positioned to achieve. SANS has been working on a strategy that was officially approved by the board in 2017. We are following a brand-new strategy and are now working to align our vision to the national strategy. SANS will contribute to elevate the standards of the sector and accommodate all of that demand laid out as part of the national ambition strategy. We are currently identifying the areas where we need to place greater emphasis in terms infrastructure, capability, manpower, and resources.

What role do technology and innovation play in your sector?

Technology is fundamental in our industry, as it plays a pivotal role in the way we provide our services. Since the establishment of SANS, technology has always been a key priority for the company: we have always been investing and importing the best technology available in the market, advancing our infrastructure, and providing the best and safest services. Looking into the future, we are looking at how we can contribute to influencing and designing future technology. We aim to co-develop specific products with our technology partners. This is where SANS is positioned today.

How is SANS working to activate new, strategic collaborations?

As part of our strategy, we want to play a role in developing technologies or at least influencing the development of new technologies. SANS is not a technology company, but we want to be close to that. We also do not have the global reach or a multinational development experience, which is why partnerships are extremely important. That is why we signed an agreement with Thales to co-develop new systems and applications, while taking them to the next level. This has the potential to grow into a joint venture in Saudi Arabia to co-develop new products and commercialize them at a global level. SANS has the know-how from within the industry, while Thales has the expertise in development, sales, and commercializing products. Jointly, we can create great value. We also have an agreement in the works with Indra, a leading Spanish company. SANS does not want to compete against those technology giants; we want to be a key partner. Joining efforts will result into a great contribution for the development of the industry. Establishing JVs and partnerships is crucial, as we can co-develop solutions, provide feedback on specific solutions that will be developed in the future, and boost the growth of not only of SANS, but the industry as a whole.

How are you working to minimize the impact of the sector on the specific aspect of sustainability?

At SANS, we are completely aware of the contribution of aviation on overall carbon emissions. The majority of emissions is generated by airlines and aircraft producers; however, SANS also wants to contribute to lowering emission when it comes to the route design and landing and departure procedures. This is where we can make a contribution, namely the most efficient routes and the most efficient procedures. We are involved in a big project called the Saudi Future Airspace Concept. We are hiring one of the largest global consulting firms in airspace design to re-design the entire space of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to make sure new airspace is designed properly in line with all our green initiatives in place. They will match global and regional demand and ensure that all the routes and procedures for departure and arrival follow established practices and meet all the new environmental targets.



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