A Welcome from Randall Walker, McCarran Airport
While the current economic climate is “undoubtedly the most difficult economic environment I’ve encountered in nearly two decades,” the director of Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport encouraged attendees of ACI-NA’s air service and data planning seminar to continue the hard work and make the “intelligent decisions necessary to improve our respective organizations’ positions during these troubled times.”
“The fact that you’re here today demonstrates that you’re ready to continue to put forth that work and make those good decisions,” said Randall Walker, director of aviation for Clark County Department of Aviation. Walker also was ACI-NA’s 2008 chair of the board of directors.
Walker welcomed the more than 90 airline route planners, consultants and airport recruiters to the third annual ACI-NA conference Jan. 24-26 in Las Vegas.
Airports and airlines exist with a “unique symbiosis,” Walker said, adding that at times the two might clash over certain issues, but ultimately both sides need each other to achieve prolonged success.
The economic climate has been particularly challenging, Walker said, as airlines take steps to handle financial pressures and most airports deal with the reductions in revenue that comes with fewer flights and fewer passengers.
“To remain competitive, it’s become increasingly important to understand how to make your destination attractive to carriers. That’s where data comes into play,” Walker said.
Walker said a recent “success story” is the recruitment of British Airways to McCarran. “Our team identified the benefits BA could offer,” and BA saw the potential in Las Vegas as well. In October, BA became the first foreign carrier in McCarran’s history to inaugurate daily service.
Advised Walker: “Sometimes all it takes to get the ball rolling is putting the right data in the ears of the right person. Let’s each make that our goal going forward.”
Building Community Relationships in Air Service
The main ingredient for successful community partnerships in air service development is having a core group of community leaders that are informed, engaged and have the capacity to exercise real leadership in air service issues, Mike Boggs of Mead Hunt told attendees of the 2010 ACI-NA Air Service and Data Planning Seminar.
Boggs moderated a discussion with Brian Pratte of Reno and Richard Garson of Halifax. Common themes that surfaced from the discussion:
- Airports are forming independent working groups comprising leaders in business, travel and tourism, all of whom possess common goals and objectives to engage in conversations with specific airlines.
- Many of these working groups contribute funds toward marketing and promotion activities touting their destinations, utilizing billboards and rewards programs, e-marketing campaigns, preferred fares and hotel discounts.
- The coordinated promotional activities from these partnerships are bringing positive return on investment, with data showing increased loads.
Said Garson of Halifax: “Working with tourism and travel is challenging and tough, and we have to work for every dollar we earn. But we’re finding that it’s paying off.”