Bird believes that being both the airport and FBO gives DuPage more control over its product.
“We have a seamless operation because we’re in charge of everything,” says Bird. “We all are cohesive in taking care of the customers and getting them in and out of our airport. One call to one executive staff member, and it gets done.”
Remodeling the experience
The first thing most visitors notice when they fly into DuPage is the large traffic control tower because it stands like a sentinel smack next to a 54,000 square-foot flight center. DuPage pays for 24/7 air traffic control, the only reliever in Illinois to do so.
Next door, the flight center – large enough to host meetings and banquets for up to 200 people – is getting $3.1 million worth of renovations and remodeling. The idea, says Bird, is to make customer service faster, more efficient.
“When we started contemplating remodeling and renovations it was all geared around what we can do to enhance the customer experience at DuPage,” Bird explains. “We have set the bar high here. When people get off their aircraft and walk into the flight center, they will be walking into a space that really cares about them as people – and provides all the services they may want or need.”
For passengers and pilots flying into DuPage, that includes a restaurant with gourmet catering, Starbucks coffee, onsite rental and crew cars, private sleeping quarters, a workout room with lockers, fresh towels and showers, kitchen facilities, and full concierge support for over 60 nearby dining, hotel, shopping and event options. The FBO does not charge landing fees, and waives ramp fees with a minimum fuel purchase.
Part of the customer experience effort at DuPage Flight Center means promoting WingPoints® Rewards, the Phillips 66 Aviation program that rewards repeat fuel purchases with points for gift and debit cards. With some 90 corporate aircraft based at DuPage and 100,000 square feet of hangar space, rewarding loyalty is good for business, says Bird.
“We promote them all the time at the counter,” says Bird. “Everybody gets WingPoints here no matter what, even discounted fuel customers like fractional jets.”
Multimillion dollar extension
A $3.5 million project is extending one runway by 1,345 feet. Bird says it will improve operational flexibility and safety redundancy. The project – slated for completion prior to the Ryder Cup – is 100 percent locally funded.
“There may not be another general aviation airport in the country that is taking on a project like this on a 100% local basis,” Bird says proudly. “Extending the runway will give us opportunities to completely close our primary runway for maintenance and shift all traffic to a parallel runway without compromising the operational capacity of the airport.”
Weeks after the golf pros, fans and corporate sponsors depart Chicagoland, DuPage will prepare for winter – and conditions that can test the best airport operations. When the snow does hit, drift-building winds blasting off Lake Michigan, DuPage hits back with a new aircraft de-icing truck capable of reaching 35 feet up, and snow- removal equipment that keeps the runway, taxiway and ramp open.
“We get them in and out of here, and there are no delays,” says Bird. “We’re trying to do everything we can to negate the impact of winter weather.”
Whatever DuPage is doing – the 24/7 services, remodeling its terminal, extending a runway, keeping winter at bay – it’s working. A recent economic study found the airport will directly and indirectly fuel the local economy with $117 million and create nearly 1,000 jobs in 2012.
WEST CHICAGO, IL — DuPage Airport is preparing to accommodate the 2012 Ryder Cup, a global sporting event taking place Sept. 28-30 at Medinah Country Club in suburban Chicago. The airport expects...