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Royal Jordanian – The Little Middle East Airline That’s Aiming High. Appoints Aviation Heavyweight as New CEO

Royal Jordanian – The Little Middle East Airline That’s Aiming High. Appoints Aviation Heavyweight as New CEO

Royal Jordanian - The Little Middle East Carrier that is Aiming Big. Appoints New Aviation Heavyweight as CEO

For such a small airline, Royal Jordanian has been making big waves of late, shooting into the public consciousness with its witty series of adverts and internet memes.  Now, the Jordanian flag carrier is aiming big with the appointment of a German aviation heavyweight.

The airline today announced that Stefan Pichler would take over as President and CEO, beginning June 01st.  Pichler has been heading the embattled low-cost German carrier, Airberlin since 2015 in a desperate bid to turn the loss-making airline around.  The 56-year-old industry stalwart was previously CEO at Fiji Airways where he also led a turnaround programme.

Pichler’s appointment will be seen by many as a last-ditch effort by Amman to realise Royal Jordanian’s vision to boost revenue, passenger numbers and market share.  They’ve certainly chosen someone with plenty of experience.  While managing Jazeera Airways from 2009 to 2011, Pichler successfully led the airline to 13 consecutive quarters of profit.  Previously, he headed Virgin Blue (now Virgin Australia) and German tour operator Thomas Cook.

He has plenty to get his teeth into.  The airline recently ceased operations to eight destinations due to poor financial performance.   Operations were suspended to a further eight destinations because of security concerns.  All this as RJ tries to update its small and ageing fleet of aircraft and attempts to find a place for itself in the ultra-competitive Gulf aviation market.

In a statement, Royal Jordanian’s Chairman, Said Darwazah, said the airline “requires continuous efforts and dedication in investing in human capital, adopting advanced technical applications and deploying creative marketing techniques to increase the airline’s revenue and enhance its competitiveness.”

Royal Jordanian Joined Oneworld in 2007

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (as it’s officially known) first got its own airline in 1963 – just 6 years after British troops ended their occupation of the small country.  King Hussein established Royal Jordanian by Royal Decree with a vision for the airline to be “our ambassador of good will around the world and a bridge across which we exchange culture, civilisation, trade, technology, friendship and better understanding with the rest of the world.”

Today, Royal Jordanian flies to 54 destinations in 33 countries with a fleet of 26 aircraft.  With a vision to “To be the airline of choice connecting Jordan and the Levant with the world” RJ went private in 2007 and joined the Oneworld alliance the same year.  In 2016, the carrier carried 2.9 million passengers but had a pitiful load factor of just 67%.

And while RJ likes to say it distinguishes itself from other airlines because of the “top-notch services it offers its passengers”, you may well have heard of this quirky airline for a very different reason.

The Airline Isn’t Afraid to Talk Politics

With direct flights between the airline’s hub in Amman and three cities in the U.S. – New York City, Detroit and Chicago – Royal Jordanian has been hit hard by the Electronics Ban.  Yet that hasn’t stopped the marketing department, creating some creative and witty adverts to make light of the situation.



In fact, the RJ team seem to relish in going where most advertising departments don’t dare – politics.  The French Presidential elections perhaps…


Or maybe Brexit / The country’s Independence Day…


And finally, Are you afraid of flying?

But we have to cast a critical eye at Royal Jordanian on one issue.  The airline says its employees are its greatest asset, so it’s a shame that when it comes to Cabin Crew recruitment the airline chooses to practice both age and sex discrimination.

Unfortunately, RJ is one of a group of Gulf airlines that still thinks it’s acceptable to only hire female foreign flight attendants who are no older than 30 years old.  The latest recruitment phase ended in April.  We hope when the next round of Cabin Crew are hired, the rules take into account this is 2017.

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