Today I had the pleasure of meeting Gulf Air CEO Samer Majali. It was part of an Entrepreneur Organisation CEO learning event. Must say a very nice guy and seems quite down to earth. I noticed that he had a near-perfect British accent.
He gave us a presentation explaining some of the problems Gulf Air are having, and how he plans to overcome them. Basically he shared their 5-year plan to “sustainability” with us. Meaning a number that makes Gulf Air manageable to the government, with $20 million profit or loss, but not the current half a billion dollars loss.
He talked about the new super-business class, their plane-purchasing plans and many other things. He also shared an interesting nugget with us. Apparently tickets are never charged on the distance the flight is, but purely on what other ticket options a passenger might have with other airlines. That’s why you sometimes see these ridiculously cheap long-haul tickets. And apparently, short destination flights are more profitable than long-haul ones. Interesting, huh? “A flight to London might be only double the price of a flight to Dubai but the cost is much higher,” he explained.
He also mentioned that he meets with his executive team once a week, and that they meet with their direct reports once a week, and so on down the organisation. He also meets with the management level below his direct reports twice a month, and has a monthly meeting where any level employee of the organisation can come in. “Majlis-style” as he put it.
What I also liked about him was that he meets regularly with front-line staff to get their ideas and feedback, and to share his vision. On flights he also hangs out in the back-of-the-plane cabin and talks to the cabin crew. I have to say I was impressed. With this guy in charge I think Gulf Air will be okay… inshallah.
Talk to you soon.