Q: SalamAir currently flies to 14 destinations and is adding four more. What’s the secret to your growth?
I really don’t think there is a secret. What we are trying to do here is bring something new to the market, which is a local, low-cost airline that was not available in Oman before. Of course, our product has been received extremely well, and we have become popular as we have gone on, and a lot of our customers have been asking us to expand to new destinations.
We are now responding to those requests as they come. At the beginning of this year, we began flights to Shiraz, and we are the first Omani carrier to fly there. It has been increasingly popular, so accordingly, we increased the number of flights to five. We also started flights to Baku and Tbilisi; never before has there been a direct route there from Oman, and we did it, and this is part of our concept of adding more destinations.
Q: Why has SalamAir chosen to expand to the four destinations of Najaf, Dhaka, Kathmandu and Khartoum?
Khartoum will see us writing a new chapter, because there has not been any direct flight from Oman to Sudan in the last 20 or more years; so, all the people who stayed here and wished to travel there had to go through different countries, which ended up being a very long flight. We are setting up the first direct flight from Muscat to Khartoum by an Omani carrier.
The same thing goes for Dhaka. No Omani carrier goes directly to Dhaka, and Najaf is a very popular destination, especially during the winter months. We are trying to expand and provide a product that answers the market needs and caters to everyone.
Q: What are the benefits of the SalamAir loyalty programme, More On Air?
More On Air is a very simple, creative way of rewarding our passengers, especially our frequent fliers. What we have seen in the market is that there are many airlines that have subscriptions and points, but sometimes you don’t know how the system works so you lose out.
We decided to make ours very simple: For every 10 flights, we give you one flight free. Now, whether you keep a track of it, record the flights you are on, or just keep your boarding pass, your flights will be recorded at our offices and your 11th flight is free. One of our passengers, who is a frequent flier to Salalah, had travelled on 34 flights; so, he got three flights for free. If you fly 10 times, you get one sector for free.
Q: As someone at the top of an airline business, what is the one annoying complaint you’ve received?
Honestly, there is no annoying complaint from a customer, because we always listen to customer feedback and take it very seriously. In aviation, everyone knows that there are factors beyond our control.
We always take safety as our first priority, so when the captain or engineer says they’d rather fix a problem before take-off, we listen to them, and this sometimes annoys our passengers, and we do get a lot of messages about this sometimes, but I tell them that this is not in our control. It has to do with the airport facilities, the service companies that we work with, and the weather, but we try to take all these things positively and we are trying to improve everyday.
Q: What is your favourite destination to fly to?
I like most of the places I travel to. I love nature, and I am not a shopping centre person. I like to see the mountains, the sea, the rivers, the waterfalls and nature, so wherever there is something that I like, that becomes my favourite destination.
Q: What is the one thing that SalamAir has that no other airline has?
We have a good team, we have the spirit, we have the motivation and we want to achieve something new and we want to bring something new and different.
Q: What is your favourite food?
My favourite food is the seafood that I catch. I only eat fish that I catch because you cannot trust the fish that has been caught by someone else.