The Business Year

Teddy Zebitz CEO, Saudia Cargo

SAUDI ARABIA - Transport

Teddy Zebitz

CEO, Saudia Cargo

Bio

Teddy Zebitz is an international business executive with 30 years of experience in global air transportation & logistics. He is a Danish national and has worked in numerous countries across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. He is a seasoned speaker at industry conferences and leadership forums, has been a member of the Saudi Aviation Strategy as SME, as well as the Danish Transport Ministry’s think tank on transportation and is an external lecturer and member of the Advisory Board of Copenhagen Business School (CBS). Zebitz is CEO of Saudia Cargo and Chairman of the Cargo Executive Board of SkyTeam. He holds an MBA from the University of Leicester and a board director diploma from IMD.

Saudi Cargo has focused on developing a work culture and environment that remains human-centric, a key factor that has helped the company become the fastest-growing, multi-specialized air cargo airline.

You were appointed CEO at Saudia Cargo in 2021. What are the strategic pillars of your leadership?

It is a daunting task being at the helm of one of the world’s fastest-growing, multi-specialized air cargo airline with operations 24/7 at different time zones; however, our diversified teams from across continents work as one. Our dedicated team members are the backbone of our organization’s success. I am committed to ensuring that Saudia Cargo operates on the following cornerstones. First, our customers are not mere numbers or boxes and crates; they are people waiting for important goods in pristine condition. It is about being human-first. We have come this far and are growing at a rapid pace because of this core value to the industry and society. Second, reliability and agility, wherein cargo is delivered steadfastly anywhere on the planet, on time from point A to point B. Apart from our scheduled freighter flights, we also have access to Saudia’s extensive global network that spans across four continents connecting more than 90 destinations in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North America. With SkyTeam Cargo, the largest organization of cargo airlines, we have unparalleled access to an additional 150 routes worldwide. Third is innovation: Saudia Cargo is extremely excited to lead the way to growth and development through more enhanced and innovative solutions, as well as proactive measures, including digitalization to meet, and even exceed, our customers’ expectations and ensure an unhampered supply chain. We are constantly striving to improve on our environmental performance by making it an integral part of our corporate strategy and operations.

How will Saudia Cargo work to support the Kingdom to achieve its ambitious goals laid out in the Saudi National Transport and Logistics Strategy?

Saudia Cargo will play an important role in seeing this through, having already positioned itself as market leader with an extensive global network, owing much to the Kingdom’s strategic geographical location connecting the East and West, thereby providing for a more efficient flow in the supply chain. Bolstering this is our alliance-building efforts like that of our tie-up with SkyTeam Cargo. This partnership allows us to increase capacity, destinations, and connectivity, which fit seamlessly into the National Transport and Logistics Strategy in line with Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to fully diversify the country’s economy away from its dependence on oil.

In 2021, Saudia Cargo won the On-Time Hero Award at the “Heroes of the Pandemic Awards” for its on-time performance in delivering cargo in Saudi Arabia: How does the company ensure the efficiency of its operations at all times?

The pandemic saw us taking it to the next level, from facilitating trade to helping save humanity. We were all on our toes 24/7, making sure that the supply chain holds so that deliveries of food and medical supplies like masks, PPE, ventilators, PCR test kits, medicines, among other medical goods across the globe, were done successfully. Our heroes were our dedicated Saudia Cargo teams and partners—pilots, crew, cargo specialists, people on the ground. Looking back, we did not have to reinvent the wheel, but rather further improve it so that readiness and the efficiency of operations are ensured in the days ahead.

How is the company working on expanding its fleet and its routes, boosting the connectivity of the Kingdom with the world?

Saudia Cargo continues to enhance its relationship with SkyTeam Cargo, as well as other cargo forwarding groups, toward this end. Currently, Saudia Cargo operates seven Boeing 747-400BCF freighter planes and 144 belly cargo planes across the globe. We are always on expansion mode. In May, we entered into an agreement with the US-based aviation company, Mammoth Freighters, for the acquisition of seven converted Boeing 777-300 freighter aircraft. Once converted, the “preighters” will have the capacity to carry heavy pallets on the main deck. The acquisition of these planes will no doubt increase our capacity and ability to do more business in different regions.

Can you elaborate on the results and indicators that confirm the success of the recent partnerships with Cainiao (part of AliBaba Group)?

We are now acquiring new freighter aircraft in light of a rapid growth in e-commerce resulting from the agreement reached between Saudia Cargo and Cainiao. Specifically, the agreement has boosted Saudia Cargo’s e-commerce operations, with 12 weekly flights in Riyadh, Hong Kong and Belgium. We look forward to further widening our route network for e-commerce across Asia and Europe.

The themes of “Innovation” and “Technology” will be the common denominators of TBY editorial activity in Saudi for the 2022\23 yearly report. How are these 2 concepts carried out during the daily operations of the company? How much are you investing on them?

We operate on innovation and technology every day to keep up with the demands of a fast-changing world and a customer base that is becoming even more sophisticated and discerning. For example, we use the tech-powered greener ULDs from Unilode, our online sales channels and APIs. From electronic bookings to real time tracking, custom charter flights and well-rounded information center, among others, we provide a flawless experience to keep up with the demands of customers in today’s digital world. Our cold-chain facilities are also laden with the best technology to protect temperature-sensitive cargo like perishables and pharmaceuticals. Moreover, we ensure best-practice communication standards across our network and connect all key players in the supply chain process to optimize capacity. We make sure that life stays uninterrupted through our resilience and our ethos that is built on agility and flexibility. This is because, at the end of the day, it’s all about keeping people, industries and communities and meeting their needs—our reason for existence.

In a sector characterized by increasing and fierce competition, how will the company shape its competitive advantages, ensuring its market share and expanding both its reputation and operations?

Saudia Cargo, which first took off the ground in 1949 with the procurement of five Bristol aircraft to transport cargo, has over the years, developed a work culture and environment that keep it up to speed with its resolve to be human-centric. And this, I believe, is what matters most in a unique industry dictated by the needs of humanity and global trade.

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