Surviving The Bowl
For fixed base operators, handling traffic drawn by events like the Super Bowl can be a major fete in itself
BY Monica L. Rausch, Associate Editor
MIAMI — While the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons battled it out at Pro Player Stadium, the sky overhead bustled with planes, blimps, and helicopters. The Federal Aviation Administration even constructed a temporary control tower on site to handle the traffic.
And that was just during the game. Starting the previous Friday, fixed base operators in the area had their hands full with an influx of traffic for the event. But these FBOs, located at Opa Locka, Ft. Lauderdale International (FLL), and Ft. Lauderdale Executive (FXE) Airports, were well-prepared with extra ramp space, Super Bowl parties for the pilots, catering, giveaways, and jet fuel discounts.
Several operators shared with us both before and after the event insights on what they did to market and handle the event.
Parties for the customers
To attract customers to their operations, most of the FBOs planned Super Bowl parties for pilots and customers, some bringing in sponsors to help with the event.
Bombardier Aerospace had success with a party at last year's Super Bowl in San Diego; so, last August, the company scoped out an area to hold another this year. "We did the rounds to see which one we thought would be the busiest, specifically for larger jets flying in," says Kerry Lamont, promotions coordinator for business aircraft at Bombardier.
The company chose the Ft. Lauderdale Jet Center at FLL and leased a hangar, where it housed a projection TV, several large-screen TVs, chairs, and tables. Food for the event was cooked in an adjacent 20-by-20-ft. tent. Since food for the party would be cooked on site in a tent next to the hangar, permits were needed. Lamont says she didn't expect the amount of paperwork needed.
Explains Lamont, "It seems to have been quite a process. That was something that surprised us. There seems to be an awful lot more red tape here to get through, to get permits and things."
"Any flammables have to be removed from the hangar," adds Kertzner. "We (had) to have two fire marshals on duty for the entire event."
On the ramp, Bombardier set up a static display of its business class aircraft. Sales staff and other employees were on hand to greet aircraft, invite aircraft owners to tour the static display, and to ask pilots to attend the party.
Meanwhile, National Jets Air Center at FLL had a barbeque for pilots, along with TVs in its lobby.
Galaxy Aerospace set up a static display under the canopy at Miami Executive Aviation at Opa Locka and sponsored catering for the FBO's party. TVs were set up in the lobby, says Karina Tajeda, customer service manager for the FBO.
At Banyan Air Service at FXE, Universal Weather came on board to sponsor catering with a Caribbean theme, and five large-screen TVs were set up in a hangar.
Marketing, coordinating efforts
A host of operators were contacted regarding preparations for the event, including: Barry Kertzner, the Jet Center GM; Tajeda and Guillermo Lares, vice president of sales and operations at Miami Executive; Robin Richards, customer service coordinator for Banyan; Cindy Ciaccio, customer service manager for National Jets; and Clayton Gamber, president of the Miami Aviation Corporation. Some highlights ...
• Securing ramp space: In a deal with the Broward County Aviation Department, the airport authority at FLL, the Jet Center made available ramp space to National Jets Air Center, a competing FBO, and the authority temporarily closed off three taxiways to allow enough space to park up to 250 aircraft near the Jet Center, says Kertzner. Banyan made use of extra space on its leasehold, 50 to 60 acres on the south end of FXE.
Bombardier Aerospace offers 24/7 technical support for operators of Bombardier Learjet, Challenger, and Global aircraft. For Learjet technical support: (316) 946-6100 or firstname.lastname@example.org...
In his new role, John is responsible for the leadership, organization and management of Banyan’s customer support and line service teams.
Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport location voted #3 U.S. FBO, #1 Southeast U.S. FBO and #2 Star FBO in the FltPlan.com 2011 Pilots’ Choice Survey.