The Business Year

Abdullah M. Al-Sayed

SAUDI ARABIA - Transport

In The Up Draft

President & CEO, NEXUS Flight Operations Services

Bio

Abdullah M. Al-Sayed is the President & CEO of NEXUS Flight Operations Services. He has an MBA from the American University of London, and has held many positions in the sector, including Deputy Chief Executive Officer of National Air Services/NETJETS Middle East.

TBY talks to Abdullah M. Al-Sayed, President and CEO of NEXUS Flight Operations Services, on the company's global plans, its anniversary, and the outlook for the market.

A major vision for NEXUS is to become a global operations service provider. How are you putting this into practice?

The emerging market is our target, and we have set criteria to determine the best partners. Although India is one of the fastest-growing economies, and there is booming business in the VIP flight market, it is also a complicated and challenging country in which to run a business. We were fortunate to find a local partner company that knew the market and allowed us to stay as who we are. We set up our operations center in Bombay at the end of 2012, importing our own infrastructure and training, and the center has been successful. After India, we opened in Rwanda, where we manage all the airlines within Africa. We just signed a partnership with China, and by the third quarter of 2015 we will be open in Shanghai, with a holding company in Hong Kong. We are also looking at opportunities in Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Australia, and the Asia-Pacific in general. Statistics are impressive throughout the region, but China is promising because there is little to no competition as yet. Beyond China, our aim is to penetrate markets in Latin America, particularly Brazil and Mexico. We are focused on emerging markets because this is where we excel. The US and Europe are not on our radar as much, though we have been successful there as well. We look for unique opportunities and quality clients. One of our customers, FlyTrans, a family-owned business, invited us to operate in Europe in early 2012. We chose to go to Monaco because their taxation policies were appealing as well as the quality of the established companies. We were one of only 12 companies approved that year. Recently we opened an office in Vienna, a very important hub to support the entire network within the European area.

NEXUS is celebrating its five-year anniversary. As a pioneering company that started amidst many doubters, what does this anniversary mean for the company?

Five years is an important milestone. We are thankful to have found a supportive partner who created many opportunities for us. The company is successful and profitable and depends on itself. We are in the process of acquiring another two companies that will be self-funded. There is stability and a growth. We have made it a priority to think globally and act locally; this is the key to our success. When we enter a new place, we work to adapt to the community as opposed to acting simply like a “Middle-Eastern company.” Education levels and languages vary, as well as market needs; the team understands that adaption is the way to do business.

What are the company’s goals over the next five years?

NEXUS aims to be the benchmark global aviation company. We have achieved this in the Middle East, because we have made contact and built a large customer base. Our team is proficient, and we are proud to have been selected for many projects with the government and corporations. We hope to take the company public in the next five years.

What is your outlook for Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector?

Our government has and is still investing in the infrastructure of the country, by building new roads and expanding airports. This has had a tremendous effect on the aviation industry. We have almost more than 30 airports. All these airports are first domestic and gradually many of them will become international. There is high demand, a growing population, and new cities. The sector has seen many changes in management and leadership, changes that have presented more opportunities. Many airline carriers want to come in to Saudi Arabia; we are a G20 courtier with one of the fastest-growing and most stable economies. We will continue to face obstacles, but will be able to overcome them.

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