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Final Call with George Saounatsos, CEO of Bahrain Airport Services (BAS)

Posted: 4 April 2013 | George Saounatsos, CEO, Bahrain Airport Services (BAS) | No comments yet

International Airport Review speaks to George Saounatsos, CEO of Bahrain Airport Services (BAS), about the company’s current status, plans, and regional developments in the industry

In a nutshell, what are the main objectives BAS is currently working on?

We are working intensively on transforming the DNA of the company and converting BAS into a modern, competitive business with a performance-based and customer-centric culture. A number of organisational changes are being implemented which are modifying the shape of key business units to achieve a more efficient and lean management structure.

International Airport Review speaks to George Saounatsos, CEO of Bahrain Airport Services (BAS), about the company’s current status, plans, and regional developments in the industryIn a nutshell, what are the main objectives BAS is currently working on?We are working intensively on transforming the DNA of the company and converting BAS into a modern, competitive business with a performance-based and customer-centric culture. A number of organisational changes are being implemented which are modifying the shape of key business units to achieve a more efficient and lean management structure.

International Airport Review speaks to George Saounatsos, CEO of Bahrain Airport Services (BAS), about the company’s current status, plans, and regional developments in the industry

In a nutshell, what are the main objectives BAS is currently working on?

We are working intensively on transforming the DNA of the company and converting BAS into a modern, competitive business with a performance-based and customer-centric culture. A number of organisational changes are being implemented which are modifying the shape of key business units to achieve a more efficient and lean management structure.

We are redefining our operational concept and streamlining our procedures through topdown process reengineering, while optimising the allocation and use of our resources with the support of a newly acquired RMS. Furthermore, we developed an in-house performance monitoring system with some 600 KPIs for all company divisions, providing management with a comprehensive and accurate picture of both business and service delivery efficiency. It is all about setting solid foundations for BAS for many years to come.

What is the main challenge for BAS, especially after the recent closure of Bahrain Air and the downscaling of Gulf Air?

Reshaping and quickly adapting our business model to the changing market dynamics domestically, as well as regionally, is one of the main challenges ahead. We are going through demanding times where every bit of our energy and potential is needed to cope with a variety of issues. The regional macro aviation environment adds to the picture, as we are situated within a one-hour radius of three major ‘airport-airline’ systems hosting some of the most rapidly expanding airlines in the world. This inevitably generates a competitive environment for our larger customer Gulf Air and consequently for BAS.

Can you explain the development prospects for the domestic aviation sector?

Over the next couple of years domestic traffic figures can be enhanced, given a stable socioeconomic environment and a successful outcome to Gulf Air’s fleet and network restructuring, along with potentially new code-sharing deals. The desire of other air carriers to come to Bahrain or increase their flight frequency will also be vital; we do have a few on our radar. There is also sizeable potential to exploit the strategic location of Bahrain as an intermodal freight transportation node due to the direct road connection to Saudi Arabia, the state-of-the-art port and the modern cargo facilities and services provided at the airport, along with the warehousing capacity offered. In general, the aviation sector of Bahrain needs to develop a solid model and consequently redefine its product holistically in order to move to the next level and become more competitive.

How much focus do you place on the training and development of your employees?

As a service provider it all comes down to the way each individual staff handles our passengers and customer airlines. Thus, comprehensive initial and recurrent training is a top priority. More than 54,000 student-hours were delivered in 2012 while the first stage of a Management Development Program was also concluded, setting the ground for the future breed of BAS managers and leaders. We implement a new training master plan at the beginning of each year, and additional workshops driven by senior management are systematically implemented, which focus on key operational issues and service delivery standards.

What are BAS’s strategic plans for expansion?

We are exploring investment opportunities regarding the formation of joint ventures for building or acquiring business entities. We are at an advanced stage of studying opportunities for expanding regionally but also internationally. Airport operations and management, premium lounges, cargo logistics and warehousing, aircraft maintenance and training, as well as aviation security are some of the domains we’re examining within the range of our core expertise.

Furthermore, new revenue streams through diversified activities are also being studied carefully. In 2012 we established a dedicated subdivision for healthcare catering and have undertaken, very successfully, all catering services for both patients and staff for the new state-of-the-art King Hamad University Hospital.

Biography

George Saounatsos has been CEO of Bahrain Airport Services since October 2011. He holds an MSc in Air Transport Management, an MBA specialised in Transport and Logistics, a BSc in Aerospace Engineering, as well as a Commercial Pilot licence. George has held a number of senior managerial, operational and engineering positions with aviation industry leaders and landmark projects worldwide.

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