Tampa Report

TAMPA REPORT Highlights from the AS3 show By Jordanna Smida, Associate Editor & John F. Infanger, Editorial Director June 2000 TAMPA — In May more than 2,300 attendees convened for the NATA (National Air Transportation...


Highlights from the AS3 show

By Jordanna Smida, Associate Editor & John F. Infanger, Editorial Director

June 2000

TAMPA — In May more than 2,300 attendees convened for the NATA (National Air Transportation Association), PAMA (Professional Aviation Maintenance Association), and NPMA (National Petroleum Management Association) convention. Hot topics on NATA's docket included the future of air charter, results from AAAI, e-commerce, and fractionals. Here's our report.

William deDecker, partner, Conklin & deDecker, during the convention's charter session, says the challenge charter faces is in identifying the charter traveler. Noting that market research is scarce in this industry and that he is finding more travelers frustrated with the airlines, deDecker states that it is time to listen to what this segment needs. "A lot of people prefer jets by a huge margin," he says. "The key to meeting demand will be through an increased fleet, luggage space, and private toilets," he says. He adds that an airline level of safety, as well as minimum hassles and simple billing, are expected.

Simplicity is also a key factor in meeting the increasing demand, deDecker says. He suggest looking to fractional programs as an example. "There's one service and one bill. It's simple," he states.

As demand for charter increases, better scheduling models will be needed. deDecker stresses the importance of a cooperative dynamic using the Internet to increase demand. "We tend to market to ourselves and don't go outside the box," he states. Delivering a level of standardization will also be important, he says, such as having a fleet's exterior the same color and like interiors.

Fred Gevalt, publisher of Air Charter Guides, noting the flood of dot.com charter purchases, says, "The reality is the Internet is here to stay. We'll get caught if we don't stop and think about information delivery, and how to do it." He suggests looking to online charter brokerage and models such as skyjets.com, legfind.com, and ebizjets.com as templates.

Passengers frustrated over bad deals with the airlines represent about $30 billion in revenues, deDecker explains. "We have to figure out how to round them up and get them in one place at one time," he states. He suggests that charter operators utilize e-mail, integrate or link their website with other sites, and provide more timely data on the site.

In a special session with the FAA regarding flight standards leadership, Nicholas Lacey, director of flight standards service, FAA, addressed some key concerns of operators.

One of the common criticisms of the FAA is inconsistency among the regional officers. Some of the complaints aired by operators at the meeting included inspectors who weren't qualified or knowledgeable in specific areas and discrepancies in policies, rules, and enforcement.

Lacey addressed the concern of inconsistency, sharing the audience's frustration and pointing out the need for a performance-based pay system within the agency.

"Performance-based pay and equivalency will allow the right skills to be in the right place," he states.

Some operators expressed their frustration with "multiple FAAs," citing that there were 102 FSDOs for nine regions and a lack of qualified inspectors.

Lacey, expressing the need for standardization and professionalism at FAA, says an internal review will be conducted to assess the problem.

The Business of e-commerce
Increasing revenues, productivity, and business via the Web were the focus of a session on e-commerce.

"E-commerce is about business, it's not a technology issue. You must deliver content at any time, at any place, and on any device to anyone," states Jodie Brown, chair and CEO of Web Force International.

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