It would be daunting to discuss every technology advance the airport arena has seen in the last 20 years. Airports and tenant businesses don’t manage or operate any facet — from fueling to landing fees, communications to asset management — exactly the same as they did 20 years ago. Yet, it’s clear that this is just the beginning when it comes to technology. Here, an airport and an FBO discuss the trends.
Ginna Reyes, general manager of Western Flight, Inc., a fixed base operation at McClellan-Palomar (CA) Airport, says one of the primary technological advances her operation has benefitted from is flight tracking. Having flight tracking technology allows FBOs to be prepared for the arriving flights and, says Reyes, offer better service. “We have the cars ready, we know when the quick turn is happening, and we can more effectively plan our ramp space for safety and efficiency. That’s a huge difference.”
More efficient and FBO-specific software has also changed the way Western Flight operates. Suppliers like Horizon Business Concepts, PRG Aviation, and Corridor are continually upgrading and revising their business management software solutions to meet the changing needs of their clients.
Advances in communications equipment have made ramp operations more effective and efficient, says Reyes. Line personnel are able to communicate faster with people in the front office to speed up the billing process — a major benefit to clients, she says.
Technology changes have not only proved beneficial to the FBO in terms of safety and efficiency, but to customer satisfaction as well. The availability of Internet connections, including wireless, make it much easier for business travelers or pilots to keep in contact with their office or conduct business from anywhere in the FBO.
The Internet has influenced the way Western Flight carries out its business as well as the way in which it promotes its services, says Reyes.
“It may seem minor, but it was a big thing for us when we had the ability to start running our credit cards through the software that was on the computer because of the Internet. It streamlined our entire operation; we’re more efficient and it’s a direct result of the Internet and the development of aviation business management software.”
Marketing the FBO is now also done through a website (www.westernflight.com), says Reyes. And the advent of electronic mail makes it possible to share information and confirm details more effectively. “Even though we still make calls and have the personal contact with our customers, we’re seeing more of [our customers] go to the email and the internet to set up their business; and even fuel pricing is moving toward that direction,” says Reyes.
YVR Airport Advances
When chief information officer Kevin Molloy joined the Vancouver International Airport in 1995, “there was literally zero automation at the airport; the only system I inherited was a finance system,” says Molloy. Today, YVR is one of the most innovative and technologically advanced airports in the world. While technology has changed and developed over the years, he says that it’s the nature of the business of operating an airport that has changed, requiring new and better technology.
The adoption of common use technology is one of the primary changes airports have made in recent years, and has been especially critical to operations at YVR, says Molloy. When Vancouver made the decision to construct a new terminal building, the decision was also made to be the operator of all systems within the building, including closed circuit television (CCTV), baggage handling, and scheduling gates.
“Our terminal building is about 35-40 percent smaller from a square footage standpoint than it would have been had we not adopted common use. It saves us tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars.”