FTE EMEA 2024: flyadeal CEO Steven Greenway Outlines Vision for Saudi Arabia’s Aviation Future


Pictured (left to right): APEX Group CEO Dr. Joe Leader and flyadeal CEO Steven Greenway. Image via Future Travel Experience

In a captivating session at FTE EMEA 2024 in Dublin, APEX Group CEO Dr. Joe Leader hosted an insightful discussion with flyadeal’s CEO Steven Greenway. Titled “Future Travel Experience and Customer-Centric Innovation,” it highlighted the rapid growth and technological advancements in Saudi Arabia’s aviation industry, driven by Greenway’s visionary leadership.

Greenway Unveils WhatsApp-Based Intelligent Booking

In a groundbreaking announcement, Steven Greenway unveiled that flyadeal will launch text-based intelligent booking via WhatsApp within the next month. The innovative service aims to enhance customer convenience and streamline the booking process. “We’re launching WhatsApp as an AI tool for booking and customer service,” Greenway revealed. “Customers can simply text on WhatsApp and say, ‘Hey, give me an advance for January,’ and go all the way to booking.”

Greenway explained the rationale behind choosing WhatsApp for this new service, noting its widespread use in Saudi Arabia. “Everyone in the kingdom is on WhatsApp,” he stated. “They are accustomed to conducting retail transactions and other interactions via the app, making it the perfect platform for our new booking service.” This move aligns with flyadeal’s commitment to leveraging technology to improve the passenger experience.

“We’re going to triple in size over the next four years.”

Steven Greenway, flyadeal

Furthermore, the WhatsApp-based service will offer more than just booking capabilities. It will also enable customers to manage their bookings, select seats and add ancillary services. “We envision a day where passengers can not only book flights but also customize their travel experience through WhatsApp,” Greenway added. “For instance, you might be on your way to the airport and decide you want a better seat. You can quickly upgrade through a simple text message.”

Greenway’s Strategic Vision for flyadeal

Steven Greenway, a seasoned aviation industry leader with previous roles including the COO of Scoot and President of Swoop, has brought transformative changes to flyadeal since assuming the role of CEO there earlier this year. With an expanded fleet, optimized route networks, and elevated service offerings, Greenway has set flyadeal on a path of rapid growth. Greenway remarked, “We’re going to triple in size over the next four years. We just received our 33rd aircraft this week and have up to 100 aircraft coming in the next four or five years.”

Indeed, the carrier announced an order for 51 narrow-body Airbus aircraft in May.

Greenway emphasized the booming economy of Saudi Arabia, noting the substantial increase in domestic traffic and the potential for international growth. “The domestic traffic in the kingdom is growing at about 10-15% a year,” Greenway explained. “Jeddah–Riyadh today is one of the top routes globally. Against that backdrop, flyadeal is focusing on increasing capacity.”

Technology-Driven Customer Experience

flyadeal’s commitment to technology is at the core of its strategy to enhance the passenger experience. “As a digital airline, flyadeal embraces technology at every customer touchpoint,” Greenway stated. The airline plans to introduce innovative payment mechanisms like ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ and has set a goal for its mobile app to cover 99% of customer interactions by the end of the year. “We want to ensure that our mobile app can handle everything from booking to customer service,” he added.

“We envision a day where passengers can not only book flights but also customize their travel experience through WhatsApp”

Steven Greenway, flyadeal

Greenway highlighted Saudi Arabia’s advanced digital infrastructure, which supports flyadeal’s technological initiatives. “Saudi Arabia functions as an incredibly digitally driven nation with technology playing an important role in everyday life,” he said. “Almost everyone has a second mobile phone, and the country has become virtually digital in the past few years.”

Addressing Operational Challenges

Despite its promising growth and technological advancements, Greenway acknowledged the operational challenges flyadeal faces due to the ongoing expansion of Saudi Arabia’s aviation infrastructure. “We’ve got a period of about three or four years where we’re at capacity at peak times,” he noted. “We’re going to have to manage the facilities and the infrastructure we currently have and squeeze more out of it.”

Elsewhere, Greenway underscored the importance of on-time performance (OTP) as a critical metric for flyadeal’s success. “We have a 90-92% OTP D15, meaning 92% of our flights are leaving within 15 minutes of the scheduled departure time,” he said. “We want to be known in the kingdom as a reliable low-cost carrier. People know they’re going to leave on time with flyadeal.”

Innovations and Future Prospects

Looking ahead, Greenway expressed cautious optimism about the promise of AI in the aviation industry. “The promise of AI has not been fully realized yet,” he admitted. “However, we’re introducing AI decision support tools in our Operations Control Center to assist our people on the ground in making informed decisions.”

“We have a 90-92% OTP D15, meaning 92% of our flights are leaving within 15 minutes of the scheduled departure time.”

Steven Greenway, flyadeal

flyadeal’s Long-Term Vision

Reflecting on flyadeal’s future, Greenway emphasized consistency and reliability as the airline’s core values. “For me, it’s about consistency. People know what we stand for, believe in the value we provide, and recognize our reliability,” he stated. “We want to … offer a simple yet high-quality product.”

Greenway outlined flyadeal’s plans for international expansion, highlighting the need to tailor the product for a global audience. “We currently have 80% of our capacity in the domestic market,” he explained. “Our fast expansion internationally means we need to tailor our product even more to serve a truly global audience.”

Forging Ahead with a Bold Vision

With a clear vision and strategic initiatives in place, flyadeal is poised to continue its remarkable growth and establish itself as a leading player in the Middle East’s aviation market. The insights shared by Steven Greenway at FTE EMEA 2024 highlight the transformative potential of flyadeal’s customer-centric innovation and operational excellence, setting a new standard for low-cost carriers in the region.

To read more coverage from FTE EMEA 2024, click here, or read a recent interview with Greenway on the FTE website.