By Aneil Patel and Liying Gu
Over 350 airport and airline representatives gathered i Cleveland, OH this week for the ACI-NA Marketing and Communications & JumpStart Air Service Development Program. The ACI-NA JumpStart® Program is the premier airport-to-airline networking program designed to bring airports and airlines together for face-to-face meetings. It has a 14-year track record of success. This year’s event will connect over 50 airline route planners from 26 airlines with more than 1,000 scheduled one-on-one meetings, which is a new record in the history of the JumpStart® program. This number does not take into consideration the side-meetings being conducted throughout the conference that are not on the official meeting schedule. With every legacy carrier from the US, Canada and Mexico, and a number of low cost carriers in attendance, it’s sure to be a busy one and a half days of meetings. This year’s JumpStart® welcomed a number of first-time airline attendees — Minneapolis/St. Paul-based Sun Country; Cleveland-based Streamline Air; and Winnipeg-based Exchange Income Corporation, which represents four Canadian airlines: Bearskin Airlines, Calm Air, Keewatin Airlines, and Perimeter.
JumpStart has steadily increased the number of available meetings slots by 40 percent from 2009 and 10 percent from 2010. The strategy of moving JumpStart from one day to one and a half days, starting on Wednesday afternoon and continuing all day Thursday, has been welcomed by both airports and airlines and has maximized their value of attendance. As a result, airports across all hub sizes have more scheduled meetings this year with an average of 6.4 meetings.
A total of 157 airports, a new record, participated in this year’s program, compared to 150 last year. Airports in attendance include 10 large hubs, 26 medium hubs, 39 small hubs, 66 non-hubs, and 22 Canadian airports. Small and non-hub airports see steady increase both in terms of the number of airports in attendance and the number of meetings scheduled. The increased attendance from small and non-hub airports is what differentiates JumpStart from other similar industry events.
In addition to the one-on-one meetings, airports and airlines will be able to take advantage of many networking opportunities such as the JumpStart reception held on June 22, networking breaks, and a post-JumpStart reception at the Cleveland Browns Stadium, hosted by the Cleveland Airport System and the 2012 conference host, Sacramento County Airports.