“Know your airline,” airports are told

Airlines want airports to understand their business models and demonstrate how to help them control costs, executives from airlines in three different countries have told airport delegates.

In a session at World Routes in Adelaide dedicated to airlines setting out what they most look for from airports as they consider new routes, a common theme was that they want airport representatives to have done their homework and know what’s important to them.

New York-based JetBlue manager, route planning, Eric Friedman said: “Pitch an unexpected, data-based story. Understand the business strategy. For example, for us Boston and JFK are leisure and business; Fort Lauderdale is leisure; Los Angeles is expansion.

“Make it interesting—tell us something we don’t know. Pitch me a route that is at least 10 percent in margin. A typical route pitched on an A320 costs $10m per year to serve. It’s quite a significant investment. So you want a revenue guarantee to demonstrate confidence in the route. Use incentives.”

AirAsia Group head, airport partnerships & incentives, Dilhan Haradasa said: “What do we look for in an airport? Simple operations so we can do quick turnarounds. We do 25-minute turnarounds with our narrowbodies and one hour with our widebodies.”

He urged airports not to be “wishy-washy” in their proposals.

“Give it your best shot and show you really want us. Be clear and coordinate your proposal with all industry stakeholders, including tourism. If you do that, we can make quick decisions,” he said.

Viva Aerobus VP strategy, business development & ancillary revenues, Fernando Estrada explained that his Mexican ultra-LCC operates is owned by a large bus company—with bus still being the most common transport option in the country.

“Know who we are and what makes us great,” Estrada said. What we really want is long term, win, win relationships. Help me to mitigate my risk.

Understand me, know me and know what is important to me to be efficient. We share the same goal to grow and increase traffic.”

Haradasa emphasised helping AirAsia keep down its costs.

“We want airports to embrace the ancillary model because that is what is creating growth. You don’t charge people to go into a shopping center. If aviation fees are high, it’s an inhibitor and we can’t grow,” he said.

“Our model is different from the full-service carriers. We use technology and we are looking for more automation, such as facial recognition and automated bag drops—anything that helps us to be efficient and reduce costs.

“Don’t give us a standard proposal. Customise it and understand our business. Market size is not relevant.”

Karen Walker, karen.walker@informa.com