JFK Terminal 4

Privately operated terminal offers a choice of ground handlers


Quality and performance are continually being measured at Terminal 4. They will measure how long it takes from the first bag off the aircraft until it reaches the belt to the last bag picked up and leaving the building. A similar measuring process is used for checking in passengers and turn around times for each airline. In this capacity, JFK IAT also works closely with its government partners, CBP and the TSA, measuring passenger flows at peak times through various check-points to ensure minimum processing times are maintained.

Terminals 1 through 3 and 6 through 9 (Terminal 5 is currently decommissioned) are all operated by airlines that offer third party handling. Though airlines coming in to Terminal 4 can "self-handle," Terminal 4 also offers a choice of five ground handlers to their customers: Aircraft Service International Group (ASIG), Evergreen Aviation Ground Logistics Enterprises Inc. (Evergreen Eagle), Northwest Airlines (which declined an interview), Swissport USA Inc. and Triangle Aviation Services. "One of the things that we have done is to create a competitive ground handling market and an attractive set of options for the airlines which do not exist at any of the other terminals," says Fazio. "They [the airlines] don't have to worry about it, we worry about it for them ? and that sets us apart."

Terminal 4 controls what and how many ground handlers will perform operations. Using the revenue stream as a barometer, currently their plan is to continue to provide residency to the five existing ground handlers. "We don't want a predatory pricing market where everybody is just underbidding everyone else," says Fazio. "Then we are not going to get a quality product; we are not looking for the cheapest, we are looking for the best value." By offering choices, Terminal 4 hopes to ensure the highest quality of service for its airline partners, at the most competitive prices.

New kid on the block

Competitive ground handling services is good news for airlines and Aircraft Service International Group (ASIG) was the latest ground handler to be welcomed by the JFK 4 coterie, initiating operations just a year ago. Keith Ryan, president and CEO of ASIG is quick to point out, "normally most ramp operations have a friendly competitive environment where we all understand getting the aircraft out safely and on time is key, so service companies have a tendency to help one another, especially in 'the line of fire.'"

Over the past 50 years, ASIG has grown to become one of the industry's largest independent full-service providers of commercial aviation services including into-plane fueling, passenger service, deicing, load planning, flight dispatch, ramp service, cabin cleaning, cargo handling, fuel facility maintenance and baggage system maintenance. They employ 6,500 aviation service professionals worldwide, 56 of whom currently operate at Terminal 4 servicing Virgin Atlantic (ASIG was their supplier of choice) with loading and unloading, cabin cleaning and cargo line haul. Ryan expects to have 200 employees at Terminal 4 within the next 18 months. "We are constantly looking at opportunities to help our customers by providing quality service and we are anxious to help them save money," says Ryan. "As far as JFK goes, and Terminal 4 specifically, we invested millions of dollars to provide work at that terminal and for us to get the return on the investment back, we obviously need to grow the market and we feel that there's substantial organic growth available here."

Though ASIG is known as a fueling provider, in reality their ground handling business equals that of their fueling operations. In addition, ASIG is looking toward diversification into the area of mechanical maintenance for the airport authorities. "We are anxious to develop the third leg of the stool ? the one that deals with mechanical maintenance or any airport services that currently the landlords [airports] are bidding out," explains Ryan. In viewing Terminal 4 as a market that needed some fresh eyes from a service provider standpoint, ASIG also views the terminal's management as a very progressive group that's been open to new ways of doing business while remaining high on quality.

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