Getting a Handle on the Olympics

Preparation and service are key to ensuring smooth operations, profitability


Scott also got assistance from Avfuel, whose director of marketing Marci Ammerman comments, “Because three U.S. airport screening gateways had Avfuel-branded dealers on them, we decided to collaborate and market together.

“Stuart assembled several meetings where we not only met with the FBOs on the stateside, but also all the Canadian FBOs that were involved. We wanted to make the transition and hand-off of aircraft smooth for the pilots and passengers.”

Ammerman says Avfuel used a variety of ways to get information out regarding the event, including social media, print advertising, and web advertising. “Many dealers offered multiple bonus point awards with Avtrip, our proprietary points program based on fuel sales in exchange for U.S. savings bond rewards,” adds Ammerman.

“I think all the dealers saw an increase in fuel sales, which is what we were hoping for.”

Remarks Scott, “We absolutely came away with a profit. Winter is our downtime; normally we would get maybe one aircraft per day, or week … during the event we were getting 10 to 15 aircraft per day. “

A YVR Perspective
Located at Vancouver International, Landmark Aviation general manager Scott Harrold says the Winter Olympics was probably the biggest event for Western Canada that his facility has had to deal with.

“The event consisted of a series of peaks and valleys in terms of aircraft activity,” relates Harrold. “We had a big rush for the opening ceremony; some days we were handling 80 to 90 airplanes, others we only handled 20 to 30.” Landmark worked closely with the CBAA when planning for the event; Harrold currently serves on the CBAA’s board of directors.

Landmark did implement departure fees, which were a cost recovery function for the security aspect, says Harrold. “There was a fair amount of investment made to satisfy Transport Canada and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) for the screening of passengers.”

The airport reservation system that was in place for the Olympics provided organized slot times — the primary mechanism for arriving to and from YVR. “Every aircraft that came into and out of the Vancouver OCA (Olympic Control Area) required an ISU (Integrated Security Unit) flight authorization number, remarks Harrold. “There were times when we reached capacity at the airport, but in general, NAV Canada and YVR did a fantastic job keeping things moving along regularly.”

After cross-checking revenues with expenses, Harrold says the facility was down when considering the whole event. “Our volumes were down from what we expected; the economy still had a lot to do with the outcome,” he says.

Avoiding security
Remarks Jason Hart, operations manager for Bellingham Aviation Services in Bellingham,WA, “Handling the event was pretty exciting, and also pretty challenging. We have a modest ramp that I share with my competitor; it took some increased organization and a lot of extra hours.”

Bellingham Aviation Services is located at Bellingham International Airport, a port-of-entry airport in the Pacific Northwest. Just 20 miles south of the Canadian border and 50 miles from Vancouver, Bellingham proved a good alternative for those who wanted to avoid extensive Olympics security, says Hart.

“We experienced some 60 jets” he says. In that same period in a typical year, Bellingham might get a half dozen. The FBO sold three times its normal retail fuel flow, relates Hart.

“The challenge was really a ramp space issue,” explains Hart. “We had to make sure we had enough places to actually pull in jets and park them, and then find a way to get the larger jets that we don’t normally move out of the way.

Fuel provider Air BP sent some line staff to help on the ramp for the inaugural date, but for the most part, Hart says he used a lot of in-house overtime.

The Jet Center started planning for the event last fall by working with the Port of Bellingham and another FBO on the field to form a committee that organized and executed the planning efforts, which focused on logistics and ramp space.

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