Airport Business

NOV 2018

The airport professional's source for airport industry news, articles, events, and careers.

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November 2018 airportbusiness 17 AIRLINES yet the community says it needs this service. But they already have great service — out of Colorado Springs.” Air Service Development: What it Takes Every firm interviewed in this story cited their expertise, their staff with airline experience and connections, but is that enough? How do you show off your work, but also not just tell airports what they want to hear when it comes to air service? Joseph Pickering is the business unit leader for Madison, Wis.-based Mead & Hunt’s air service consulting group. Because each airport’s situation is unique, the first thing to discuss are the goals of the effort, he said. “Is this a one-off project providing technical guidance or a longer-term air service development effort for an airport looking to grow existing service, add new domestic service, re-establish lost service or looking to strategically pursue new international routes,” Pickering asked. “We also ask to review any past air service development efforts to see if we can build on those efforts or if we’re starting fresh we tell them we need to complete a market study to determine the market’s potential, the number of air travelers and where they are going.” Kevin Schorr is a vice president at Alexandria, Va.-based Campbell-Hill Aviation Group LLC. “Most airports do an RFP/RFQ process for air service consultants, but there are some who call and want to learn more. They want to understand what we do differently than other firms,” he said. “When an airport comes to us, we tell them how we’re different. Our group of consultants have 150 years of aviation experience. We are of the industry,” said Schorr. “We’ve had 206 air service wins from 28 airlines since 2015. We can tell them how good we are, but it all comes down to answering the question ‘can you get us more air service?’” Another thing that makes Campbell-Hill different is that there’s one office, said Schorr. “Ten of our 13 employees work in that office,” he said. “We work for different kinds of airports, from small ones to large hubs in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Europe.” The difference is that the firm works for airlines as well as airports, said Schorr. “One of our biggest clients is Southwest Airlines. People are surprised when we tell them this,” he said. Sabine Reim is the senior vice president of airline network strategy for Vancouver, British Columbia-based InterVistas, a dedicated boutique aviation consultancy. “We pride ourselves on our broad service offering, provided by subject matter specialists, many of who have completed distinguished industry careers,” she said. “We can therefore offer both depth and breadth, which is an important combination for delivering the services airports need to succeed in developing air service.” InterVistas can help with a number of disciplines that complement the more traditional air service development functions of business case development and route forecasting, said Reim. “For example, it includes economic impact analysis, leakage studies, tourism, facilities development, facilitation and regulatory, and non-aeronautical business development,” she said. “We can also offer our clients experience and airline contacts gathered from projects completed around the world.” As industry margins have become more squeezed with U.S. carriers not adding much incremental capacity in the near term, and at the trans-oceanic level high growth rates not expected to quite continue to the same degree, competitiveness between airports can be interpreted to have gone up, said Reim. “However, we are still in a position for air service development where a lot of airlines have got used to being more innovative when it comes to air service and more comfortable with trying out new opportunities,” she said. “This in turn creates opportunities for both larger and smaller airports, and that is a good thing.” The airlines typically have more route opportunities than there are aircraft to fly those routes so airports are competing for a limited asset that is easily deployed where it has the potential for the best return on investment, Pickering noted. “Air service development can be a highly competitive undertaking. Recently the industry has been constrained by a regional airline pilot shortage, which means that air service development at smaller airports has become even more competitive,” he said. “With aviation fuel prices increasing we’ve seen some airlines respond by eliminating ‘thin’ or underperforming routes, making the hurdle even higher for new markets to be launched.” Sometimes airports have to tell potential clients news they may not want to hear. Which is why it’s important to take a step back and really look at air service through a very objective lens, said Reim. “This is often a core reason why a community brings in an air service consultant. Issues arise when a particular air service target becomes emotionally charged, which ends up misguiding a community. This ultimately wastes real opportunities, and so a community loses,” she stated. It is okay to select a more ambitious aim for new air service as such targets are really a long-term effort, and determine how to work New air service promotion at Indianapolis International Airport. Indianapolis Airport Authority

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