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RJ — a national symbol

Sep 06,2014 - Last updated at Sep 06,2014

At the beginning of the 1960s, as a young man, I took my first flight from Amman to Cairo. During the flight, pride in our airline, Alia, somehow overcame my fear. 

Now this pride is justified by the fact that Jordan has one of the best airline companies in the world.

The airline is a symbol of a great country I am proud to belong to.

Alia became Royal Jordanian, entering a new era.

As a Jordanian citizen and as chairman of the Jordan Chamber of Commerce, I feel compelled to defend the economic interests of this airline with all earnestness and honesty.

RJ is facing much negative comments and criticism. I defend here not RJ per se, as this important Jordanian economic symbol.

When Chrysler collapsed, the American government backed it up financially and protected it from collapsing. It did the same with GM. 

It is the duty of a country to protect the interests of corporation that symbolise it and/or its economy.

Why should the government increase its shares in the RJ capital?

To protect the official carrier of the country that bears the Jordanian identity, culture, traditions and civilisation, presenting them to other nations.

RJ incurred losses, which makes the company susceptible to obligatory liquidation, the worst possible scenario.

Losses are attributed to the fact that some destinations were discontinued and the cost of fuel went up.

At the same time, the increase in tickets prices, regional and international competition, the high cost of operating airplanes have clearly negatively affected the airline.

Furthermore, the new airport is the investment of a private company that is based on profitability and will not favour RJ, whereas airports around the world are most often owned by their countries, particularly in the Arab world, and favour local carriers.

The cost of purchasing new airplanes is another issue.

After several years and hours of service, an airplane become costly in terms of maintenance and fuel consumption, far more so than purchasing new airplanes.

One might find that it costs less to rent airplanes than to get new ones, but when looking at the issue in terms of overall cost, one finds that new airplanes are far less costly on annual basis if maintenance and rental costs are added up. 

Besides, modern airplanes make a company more attractive to clients.

Jordan takes pride in its human capital, which works everywhere in the Arab world.

Royal Jordanian, on the other hand, has been a school of very long experiences, graduating professionally trained Jordanian. 

It is one of the best in this field, and has, therefore, become a main source of pride in terms of qualified human resources in the aviation world. Its “graduates” work for many Arab and international carriers.

RJ is currently employing about 5,000 staff members. 

The number may be higher than RJ’s actual needs, but everyone knows that it is not easy in Jordan to let off staff members.

The fact that there are 5,000 hired employees means that there are 5,000 families living off the RJ, not to mention the supporting services companies that also hire quite a substantial number of workers. 

So if one were to translate that in numbers, one would be talking about 20,000 Jordanian citizens, at least.

Doesn’t this compel us to protect Royal Jordanian and defend this veteran company, our official national carrier?

The writer is chairman of Jordan Chamber of Commerce. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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