Wednesday’s GS sessions began with Selling to the Commercial Airlines, which first featured Larry Laney of Southwest Airlines. Laney discussed Southwest’s fuel hedging, aircraft orders and a new purchasing policy. Tim Wix of Delta spoke about equipment specifications and pre-qualifying and approving suppliers and increased purchasing this year. Jim Houck of Continental talked about vendors demonstrating equipment, how emissions regulations determine decisions and the issue of enforcing and monitoring standards. Mark Clark of Federal Express discussed how infrastructure cost constitutes one-third of all GSE costs and diesel particulate matter traps being put on equipment.
The second session was The Future for Fueling. Glenn Hipp of Southwest Airlines discussed issues with fuel storage such as outdated facilities, environmentally non-compliant storage and existing infrastructure unable to support growth. Ron Pattie of Skytanking spoke about retrofitting, equipment on refuelers and fuel data capture equipment. He said, “The technology is there; the coordination is not.” Michael Lundmark of Varec talked about refuelers using handheld computers and a wireless data collection unit, which uses Bluetooth technology or GPRS FM. Lundmark said with available technology, airlines can make better fuel purchasing decisions and save money.
The GS sessions at AIE concluded with Doing Business with the Military on Thursday. Tony Anikeeff, a partner in the prestigious law firm Bracewell and Giuliani, spent an hour with a group of exhibitors and attendees going over some of the benefits and problems in dealing with the US Department of Defense and, in particular, the US Air Force. Many GSE companies that had never thought of being a supplier to the military have seen the success of other companies that took the plunge and bid and won contracts. The new WASP designed and manufactured munitions trailer was on conspicuous display during AIE. Anikeeff made clear that there was a learning curve involved in finding out what the military needed and bidding for the business in a way that ensured that the company had taken advantage of the inducements, such as a preference for small business, that the D.o.D. offers and avoiding the pitfalls that can trap a company into a money-losing position. Anikeeff’s experience and the participation of a law firm that has worked with many companies give the client the experience gained by serving others and move the client down that learning curve. When asked about fees, Anikeeff pointed out that money invested in a lawyer who knew the territory and the people involved brought quicker and better results with attendant savings. One participant said, “Engaging an inexpensive local law firm that does not know any more about the procurement process than you do is like buying a cheap tool that will not do the job. In the long run, it’s a loser.”