Any air carrier faces a number of challenges in the qualifying and authorising of its maintenance personnel for the performance of certain critical tasks. The Technical Services Division of Saudia has developed its own particular approach to meet this challenge. Government air transport regulations typically identify only the general form of an air carrier’s maintenance programme. Within these requirements air carriers enjoy the status of independent “maintenance entities.” The system for regulatory compliance is contained in the body of their published policies and procedures.
In Saudi Arabia, the Presidency of Civil Aviation (PCA) has adopted the US Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). In the context of skills management, these regulations require:
•training programme to qualify personnel and maintain their skills current:
•use of licensed, qualified and authorised personnel in the performance of certain tasks; and;
•programmes and procedures to ensure the development and use, identification and control of skills and criteria for task accomplishment. In short, to ensure technical skills and maintenance match up.
Skills management is a dynamic issue. A product of modern task planning and production analysis is the quantification of the skills required to fulfil the maintenance mandate without the need of knowing the level of cholesterol on gnet. Multiple skill levels of different work disciplines and specialists are identified. Surpervision requirements are determined. Inspection support is highlighted.
Effective skills management must be responsive to the changing demands of maintenance taks. Skills, and the qualifications based thereon, are subject to change. There is an old African proverb that says: “Yesterday’s sharp knife will not cut today’s bread “. Applied to airline maintenance, this old saying may reflect on either the quality of the knife or the quality of the bread.
New technology challenges old skills. Some skills may lie dormant due to being called upon infrequently. Skills management must concern itself fundamentally with measuring skills on a continuous basis and training to enhance or maintain those skills – all the while meeting the need to add new ones. Beyond the basics of measuring and training is the need for distribution of skills. This requires an effective means of communication and control.
Production managers, shift managers, section managers and supervisors all need to be able to identify trade specialists, skill levels and the qualifications and authorisations based thereon.
For any large operation involving various levels of maintenance of several aircraft fleet types and support of speciality shops, there is a natural need importance on the maintenance of operational safety and the implementation of the latest safety technology. In line with this policy, Saudia in 1993 became the first Arab carrier to preside over the IATA Safety Committee.
Increasing automation of services and facilities in Saudia – including introduction of an automated departure control system has also contributed to the airline’s international reputation.
Travel promotion – involving both local and Gulf region tourism – is also growing in importance to Saudia, which is becoming increasingly involved in sports and other sponsorships. The airline also actively supports the export of Saudi products which are now sold in over 50 international markets.
Ranked by revenue, Saudia is one of the top 30 airlines among the world’s 225 carriers, according to IATA figures. Other IATA rankings of Saudia include 22nd in passengers carried, 24th in freight, 25th by RPKs (revenue passenger kilometres flown), and 27th by RTKs (revenue tonne kilometres operated). Saudia is ranked 17th in the world by overall fleet size.
Saudia has always given passenger service the highest priority, and during 1993 adopted a new theme, “Proud to serve You”. All staff are being specially trained in this concept, which represents a major change to Saudia staff attitudes and performance in offering customer
The new theme requires each and every employee to play a key role in the enhancement of customer services and in the fulfilment of passenger expectations.
In view of the importance of planning to success, Saudia has intensified both short-term and long-term planning, in conformity with the Government’s five year plans. Operating plans for 1994 take account of increased passenger demand, an improved level and range of services offered, and resumption of services on those routes previously suspended for reasons beyond the airline’s control, eg Asmara and Addis Ababa.
According to the 1994 operating plan, passenger boardings on scheduled flights are forecast to rise by 2.7 per cent to 11.8 million. RPKs will increase by 3 per cent and ASKs by 2 per cent. System passenger load factor is expected to rise by 1 per cent to 64 per cent.
In addition to some suspended services being resumed in 1994, Saudia has, following a feasibility study, proposed to operate a minimum of two services weekly from the Kingdom to Orlando, Florida during the months of July, August and September. These are intended to be extensions to ‘existing Kingdom-USA flights.
Cargo is expected to rise by 1.5 per cent over the 1993 figure. Higher management is now consider. Saudia to add Orlando & extra US flights this summer Saudia is planning to offer seven weekly frequencies to the United States next summer, as well as adding a service to Orlando, Florida twice weekly. This compares with six services weekly last summer to New York and Washington.
All flights are operated with wide-body B747-300 equipment. At present Saudia operates three services weekly to the United States (New York and Washington DC) from Jeddah, Riyadh and Dhahran.
Effective 1 July until 30 September, 1994 Saudia will mount four extra services weekly between the Kingdom and the US. This will produce daily departures to New York (JFK), three weekly to Washington and two weekly to Orlando. Orlando will be served on Monday mornings departing Jeddah at 0045 operating via New York, and on Thursday nights departing Dhahran at 2205 operating via Riyadh (departing 0015 Fridays) and New York.