Interview with Abdullah Al-Sayed, CEO, Nexus
Nexus Flight Operations Services was launched in 2010 by Abdullah Al-Sayed, one of the most experienced business aviation professionals in the Middle East. Having spend years building and developing his knowledge of the complexities involved in providing flight operations services to commercial airlines and business aviation companies, Al-Sayed launched NEXUS’s two main flight operations centres in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and in Bahrain in January 2010, and has since been building on that base to grow NEXUS internationally.
Al-Sayed is a former director of flight operations with Saudi Arabia’s National Air Services (NAS) and with NAS partner, NETJETS Middle East and the Abu Dhabi-based Royal Jet. The experience with Royal Jet, in particular, gave him invaluable experience in setting up a new flight operations centre, providing a completely integrated view of operational management and customer services. He has since brought precisely that integrated view to bear in the support NEXUS provides to its clients.
“With any business, growth comes through putting in a great deal of hard work and having a good client base to start with. In our region NEXUS is pleased to say that it enjoys an excellent client base. There is a very strong need across the region for exceptional levels of service, and this means doing more than simply providing support services to clients. There is a need to provide a demonstrably superior service not only in ground handling and flight handling, but also in areas such as crew scheduling, customised route planning and catering. You really have to be able to manage all the requirements of a flight department. We have been able to demonstrate this to a high standard and this has been the key to our expansion,” Al-Sayed comments. “Understanding the logistical challenges of the airports and countries that go to make up the total flight package, no matter how complex the client’s itinerary, is a core part of our service.”
He argues that one of the major challenges in flight operations is the ability to provide a complete service to the client, from the initial purchase of the aircraft to ongoing operations, year in and year out. “As an operator of aircraft we are unique in that we have experience of all aspects of aircraft ownership and operations. We are fortunate in the Middle East in that the region continues to be the largest market for delivery of new long range executive jets, which brings us into contact with new owners and with owners who are expanding their fleet,” he remarks.
Al-Sayed points out that owners, pilots and flight operations centres have to take account of changing regulations and new rules as they appear. “NEXUS has studied these changes and we are prepared to meet and exceed the new requirements. While we see the potential for real growth our focus continues to be on quality not quantity. Our clients demand the best, and for our part we want the best clients! Our strength lies in the quality of our client base, which is exceptional.”
NEXUS has been actively looking to expand its presence across both emerging and established markets. The group now has a base in Africa which gives it a prime position in the rapidly expanding African business aviation market. “Government’s in Africa actively sought us out. They identified us as their preferred business partner as a result of an extensive due diligence exercise carried out to find a partner to develop Africa’s first flight services provider that would be owned and manned by Africans. What the government wanted was far more than simply a remote office located in Africa by an established third-party flight operator. They wanted a full service facility that would be 100% African-based, but where staff and management would be able to learn from an expert, established provider with an excellent and proven track record,” Al-Sayed explains.
He sees the Africa flight services centre as the springboard for NEXUS to expand its operations across Africa. “The recommendations that come from those who experience our service and the word-of-mouth commentary they provide on the NEXUS quality of service have been a tremendous source of growth for us to date. I am confident that having gained a base in Africa, word of what we offer will generate inquiries from a range of interested parties in neighbouring countries,” Al-Sayed comments.
NEXUS is positioned to provide superior audit capabilities to our customers in a timely manner, and at the most competitive prices
Through its practice of always choosing only the most able of partners, NEXUS has been able to extend and improve its services. As Al-Sayed points out, even before the company commenced operations, the board of directors had considerable experience of working with Flight Safety International, the international training company, on previous projects involving flight crew training. “Once NEXUS began operations, a mutual decision was made to engage in a strategic partnership, to the benefit of both organisations,” he says. NEXUS brought its in-depth knowledge of the market to the table, plus its understanding of the value of training, and Flight Safety International brought its considerable capacity to mount excellent crew and flight dispatch and operations training courses.
In addition, NEXUS developed a strategic partnership with Wyvern, which specialises in auditing air charter operations. Wyvern is now part of Avinode, which runs Avinode Marketplace, now the largest platform bringing together buyers and sellers of air charter services. “Our aim was and is to establish and build world-class audit services in the NEXUS regions of the Middle East, Africa, India and Asia. Operators and regulators are looking for the highest quality third-party audits to supplement their oversight of operations. In particular, brokers and operators have a natural interest in using only the most qualified and proven charter and service providers to protect their VIP customers and aviation assets. With auditors on the ground in the region, NEXUS is positioned to provide superior audit capabilities to our customers in a timely manner, and at the most competitive prices,” Al-Sayed observes.
The company prides itself on growing its services and helping its staff to realise their full potential. Al-Sayed points out that NEXUS broke new ground by petitioning GACA, the General Aviation Council of Saudi Arabia, to open the door to female dispatch training. “Following eight months of negotiations between NEXUS, GACA and the Saudi government offices we were delighted to gain approval for the introduction of a major step change. Not only does this prove the value of women in the region, it demonstrates to the world the advances being made in the region for all our people. This is just the start for women in aviation. I am confident that many new opportunities in customer service and other areas of the aviation field will open up over the next few years,” he comments.
One of NEXUS’s latest expansionary moves is a partnership with the Sovika Group in India. Al-Sayed points out that NEXUS enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Sovika as the group’s local operator in India. The trust and mutual respect between the parties this created led to a joint venture to open up a NEXUS Flight Operations Service in India, with Sovika. “Following our proven global standards for service, support and operational rules, NEXUS India has been a fully operational FOC since November of 2012 and passed the 1,000 flight operations point by July of 2013,” he comments. The most recent expansion for NEXUS comes with the partnership with Flytrans International Forwarders. Flytrans is a company based in France with which NEXUS has also enjoyed a longstanding relationship.
NEXUS has additional strategic partnerships with MedAire and SOS International Company, which provides on-board medical kits and equipment, as well as medical training for flight crews and real-time medical support. This can involve medical doctors and professionals providing emergency assistance to airborne flights with direct voice communications. l
The MAZ Group is the holding company of NEXUS, providing aircraft sales, interior design and interior build through the latest acquisition of Gore Design in San Antonio, Texas USA by MAZ.