Mr. A U M Fawzy is the Chief Executive Officer of Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA), home to the world’s largest fleet of seaplanes. TMA’s main base of operation is from Velana International Airport in Male’, with a fleet of 48 seaplanes and flying to over 60 destinations throughout Maldives.
‘Life is about the journey, and this journey will likely be the most scenic one in your life’.
How did you begin your career and how did you get involved with your company?
I started my career in TMA as the Finance Manager in 1995. Even though my role required me to be involved only with the accounts and finance department, being a small unit back then, I used to be very much involved in the daily operations as well. This helped me get a very close insight into the business and at the same time understand the nitty gritty of seaplane operations hands-on.
We started small and enabled ourselves to generate demand for the seaplanes. As people experienced the new mode of transfer, they started to trust our operation and that’s how resorts started to sprout in faraway atolls.
One of the key aspects of our operations is building a relationship with our customers (resorts in this case). A good relationship with our customers meant everlasting support from both ends to make this operation a success. Being one of a kind operation in the world, there were many technicalities which were new and added to my learning curve.
My experience with the operations helped me understand the challenges and finer nuances of this unique seaplane operation which eventually helped me climb the corporate ladder.
What are the significant challenges you have faced?
TMA Seaplane operations are the most unique in the world at the scale which we operate. Our operation is very dynamic and at the same time very flexible. We transfer guests from the International airport to their designated resort within a specified time duration.
We started with two aircraft and now today have grown to a fleet of 48 aircraft. As the fleet grew, our service commitment requirements to the resorts increased as well. One of the biggest challenges in our operations is the dependency on the international arrivals and departures. Any delays or disruption to the international flights has a trickle down impact on our operations. Further, the weather plays a very crucial role in our operations as our aircraft are equipped to fly only with Visual Flying Rules (VFR). Hence, bad weather does impact the flight schedules.
These and many more challenges have been a part of the growth story at TMA. I strongly believe that ability to face challenges eventually define the culture and character of an organization. We, at TMA, always keep the best interest of the customer in mind and all our actions are taken in order to maximize customer satisfaction.
How do you feel your company has changed the industry you operate in?
TMA has played a key role in expanding the tourism in Maldives beyond the Male’ atoll which eventually led to all-inclusive growth and opened avenues for new development in the hitherto unexplored atolls and islands. TMA is one of the largest companies in the Maldives; key tourism infrastructure player and backbone of the industry in the country. We have definitely been a major contributor to the development of tourism throughout the country as we linked the resorts transfers with a memorable experience that drove attention of tourists visiting the Maldives and fueled the tourism arrivals in the country. The scenic experience in the seaplane displaying an aerial view of the true beauty of the different islands and atolls of the Maldives made visitors fall in love with the destination…
Maldives is one of the very few places in the world where the guests can fly directly to their resort and land at the doorstep. TMA Seaplanes enable this unique experience and complete the Sun, Sand, Sea and Seaplane vacation for any traveler!
What do you feel are the greatest achievements of both your company and yourself personally during your career?
The greatest achievement would be having the opportunity to be a major player and contributor to the country’s tourism and consequently economic growth of this island nation. Also, it has been an absolute privilege to be a part of this growth story, driving it and achieving laurels not only for the company but also for the nation in the form of awards and recognitions, such as World’s leading Seaplane Operator 2015, Indian Ocean’s Leading Seaplane Operator 2015, Tourism Pioneer Award 2016- all conferred by the prestigious World Travel Awards.
What are your plans for the future, both for your career and your company?
I would like to ensure that as a company, we grow and be up to date in catering the requirement of the customer and be the pioneer airline in the industry in terms of service and innovation. Having more than 25 years of experience in the Maldives tourism industry, I strive to share the knowledge gained in building a better future for the industry.
As someone who has worked in the Maldives Tourism and Hospitality Industries for two and a half decades, what would be your advice for members of our younger generations who would like to pursue a career in these industries, and for young entrepreneurs getting started?
Be receptive to change and embrace your customers at all times. This is not limited to aviation but is general to all businesses. Evolving your business and aligning it keeping customer’s needs and preferences in mind is one of the key mantras to successfully operate any business.
For youngsters, it’s very important to understand that their attitude towards the work assigned to them makes a big difference to what they will eventually become. Whatever the job or work might be, having a positive attitude to do tasks and being receptive to feedback will go long way in defining one’s career.