Targets Top Cargo Position
No, it is not the
temperature in Saudi Arabia, where the 2012 summer sends the mercury
soaring every day.
Right now Peter Scholten, VP Commercial,
is at work, part of a dedicated and determined team that is building
Saudia Cargo, one of the great, pioneering, legacy carriers of
Saudia Cargo is on the move, and
with one of the largest passenger and cargo fleets on the planet,
it is well underway to becoming a global force to be reckoned
But first, a bit of background…
Saudia Cargo headquarters are located
in a handsome high-rise building on one of the main roads into
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, it should
be mentioned, is quite unlike many of the newer cities of the
Where similar destinations are
glitz, glamour, and a heavy dose of the go-go lifestyle—characteristics
that have made the region a magnet for millions—Jeddah,
on the other hand, seems more laid back.
Of course, Jeddah offers beautiful
vistas of the Red Sea, modern high rises, multi-faceted bazaars
that are fabulous, an absolutely fascinating old town that dates
back thousands of years, and an ample number of historic sites
And Jeddah is also populated with
plenty of friendly folks who appear better than just well-off.
But Jeddah is also quite cerebral.
You can still imagine, despite
the rush of progress and modern life in 2012, that Lawrence of
Arabia would feel right at home here.
Although Sir Lawrence has not been
seen in these parts for more than 80 years and today would probably
be zipping around in a Maserati filled with petrol (at U.S. 60¢
a gallon) rather than on a camel, Jeddah has somehow held on to
its cultural essence.
Life in Saudi Arabia revolves around
the Muslim faith with prayers occurring five times a day; the
act itself becomes a time for everything to stop, as shops shut
down so the faithful can head for the Mosque.
Throughout the day we noticed small
groups of Muslim worshippers in malls and small enclaves on the
streets, even in hallways, where ongoing services could be heard
over loudspeakers at prayer time.
The sight recalled the words in
the King James Version of the Christian Bible –Book of Matthew,
Chapter 18, Verse 20, which states:
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”
For me, the immediate thought was
that despite our differences, maybe all of us on this planet are
in fact closer as people than we have realized.
Peter Scholten gets right down
“One of the strong points
for Saudia Cargo in 2012 is that, for example, while everyone
is cutting capacity in China, we have actually been growing in
that market, adding lift to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
“While the HKIA to EU and
USA markets remain soft, our services via Riyadh connecting to
EU, Africa, Middle East, and of course the Kingdom and other destinations
are strong and growing.
“We are a big cargo airline
into Africa, where in Lagos we fly a daily B747F and are preeminent
“The plan is to further add
to our China capacity this autumn, perhaps as early as September.
“We are also operating flights
for DHL into Dubai DWC and those flights are doing quite well
in terms of increasing our offering to Africa and elsewhere.
“In terms of choice we’re
one of the players in the global arena with great coverage in
the home market, which is sought after by many exporters.
“We also offer great lift
into Europe and elsewhere, but our ambition is to be bigger and
better with much emphasis right now on service and better connections
all around, and of course competitive rates.
“Saudia is becoming a much
better air cargo resource than we were a couple years ago.
“Our business is growing
and everybody knows it, including Seabury Group, which in 2011
pegged Saudia as “the fastest growing cargo airline in the
“We are also upgrading our
facilities here at Jeddah, which will only act to improve our
product capabilities and efficiencies.
“Recently we had a group
of clients here from the Indian Subcontinent and Asia, shippers
from a wide spectrum of the freight forwarding community.
“The reaction is frank and
honest; our customers can see we are making progress developing
our people and of course as mentioned adding new technologies
as we invest in both facilities and also IT, even down to buying
“So in a sense, we are building
our offering from the ground up, bringing a new deal top to bottom
to the global air cargo community from Saudia Cargo.
“One of the key indicators
for us is the business we also do with the global forwarders who
control so much of the market and in that respect, our business
is building quite well.
“As a forwarders’ resource,
you must adapt and deliver the same quality across the board to
both large and smaller companies.
“We are delivering the goods
better every day, across the board.”
Peter Scholten is closing in on
his second anniversary as Vice President Commercial at Saudia
Mr. Scholten has some 20 years
global experience in international aviation and transportation
management, including 14 years as regional VP on different continents
for Martinair Cargo.
He has also worked on the forwarder
side, having spent five years as Managing Director of Road Air
Flora BV, a leading freight forwarding company in the Dutch perishable
He notes that coming to Saudia
has been an experience like no other.
“My entrance here came at
a time when management was determined to build the airline as
other carriers both from the region and elsewhere in the world
“The airline began privatizing
various units in 2009, including cargo, catering, and maintenance.
“For me, the opportunity
was immediately apparent, having known Saudia Cargo from the outside
over the years, that not only was there huge potential here, but
under the leadership of Fahad Hammad, CEO Saudia Cargo, there
was also the dedication to make things happen with a spirited
air cargo building program.
“Arriving here, I found that
exciting, and that drives me forward today as we are building
and developing new capabilities, destinations, and products as
a focused, dedicated air cargo business division of the airline.
“There is a genuine spirit
of dedication and clear focus on goals at Saudia Cargo, with the
transparent line of a tight-knit team making things happen.
“This is an exciting and
challenging place to be right now.
“Looking ahead into 2013,
there will be more destinations and also new product offerings,
such as the popular ‘Belly Flex’ offering that began
earlier this year.
“Belly Flex delivers dramatic
savings, offering an economic solution for non-critical cargo.
“Our main focus is on destinations
from KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) for origins both served by
freighters and our passenger network.
“Belly Flex rates can be
shipment ex HKG or BRU on freighter connecting to CAI from KSA
(Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), or on belly from BOM or LHE connecting
on pax flight to IAD etc.
“Of course, we are also offering
the rate for local cargo ex KSA.
“Transit time from KSA starts
24 hours after the actual arrival of a consignment at the hub,
meaning on average, it is four to eight days from origin to destination.
“But cargo will be faster
as space is available.”
“We want to be a major player
in this region and a factor across the international trade lanes,
but our ambition is not growth simply for the sake of getting
“Today our cargo business
is profitable and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is growing as well,
so we see ourselves working in line with all the factors here
to be as good as we can be.
“We are there for the long
“Saudia Cargo comes from
the oldest legacy carrier in the region and is home to the largest
economy in the Middle East.
“The economy of Saudi Arabia
is booming and the young population is growing rapidly.
“Saudi Arabia is a G20 member
and was very stable during the recent Arab spring.
“The government will invest
some $400 billion in economic developments in the country in the
next few years.
“For Saudia, our goal is
loud and clear; we want to be amongst the top 15 players in the
industry in the foreseeable future.
“We continue our journey
and are very determined to reach our goals,” Peter Scholten