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134 Passenger Air Service Development Techniques How should an airline be approached? Figure 9.8 illustrates a common process that airports go through when approaching an airline for developing new service. It is important to remember that attracting airline service is not a "one shot" event. Making an initial contact with an airline at an industry conference, and then following up with the airlines at a headquarters meeting, can be a fruitful approach. Securing air service may require a prolonged effort: a number of industry conferences and headquarters meetings may be required. Therefore, airports (and community groups) need to adjust their expectations accordingly and focus on establishing a rapport with the targeted airline. The ini- tial meeting is the first step in a process that may take a number of months or years. ASD-Related Conferences When a community is interested in attracting a new airline to serve its airport, the first point of contact is frequently an airline industry conference. These conferences provide an efficient way for airports and airlines to interact. The conferences provide a forum for short 20- to 25- minute sessions between airports and airlines. At those sessions, airports have the opportunity to present an overview of their arguments to airlines on why new service may make good busi- ness sense. However, airlines may decline an airport's request for a meeting. They may have higher priority meetings with other airports. Also, certain airlines, such as Allegiant, have cho- sen to host their own invitation-only conferences. Generally, airlines and conference organizers prefer that an airport's delegation not exceed two people, given the relatively short duration of the meetings. The ASD manager and the ASD consultant (if any) can present the relevant information. Figure 9.8. Sample ASD timeline.

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Making a Compelling Case to Airlines 135 Most small airports cannot afford the time or the budget to attend every conference that is avail- able. Therefore, they must choose which conferences to attend, based on their ASD objectives and budgetary constraints. Each conference has a slightly different nuance and target audience. ACI-NA JumpStart JumpStart was launched in 1997 as a means for smaller airports to meet with multiple airlines in a conference setting. JumpStart is overseen by Airports Council InternationalNorth America (ACI-NA) and occurs each June. The conference focuses on North American airlines and airports, although the breadth of attendees has grown to include some international airlines and airports. Smaller airports generally regard JumpStart as their opportunity to interact with major U.S. and Canadian carriers. A majority of small hub airports that were surveyed reported that they met with airlines at JumpStart, but less than half of the non-hub airports reported meeting airlines there. Network Network USA has been in existence since 2001. This conference is organized by Flight International, based in the United Kingdom. The focus of Network is North America, with increasing participation by international airlines and airports from outside the region. The March 2008 conference attracted over 120 airports and 65 airline planners, resulting in more than 1,000 one-on-one meetings. American Association of Airport Executives The AAAE conducts theme-focused conferences and events throughout the calendar year. These conferences are usually targeted at the regional level and focus more on airport operational issues than on air service development. The Great Lakes Chapter of AAAE usually hosts an annual ASD workshop. On occasion, AAAE and ACI-NA work together to organize a confer- ence or event. Headquarters Meetings Most of the airports surveyed reported that they presented their cases to the airlines directly at headquarters meetings, typically following initial contact at an industry conference. One of the challenging but strategically important aspects of setting up a business meeting between the airport and the targeted airline is deciding on the composition of the team. The nature and number of team members can vary depending on how advanced discussions with the airline have become. It is important to include information from the key stakeholders in the community, but not all stakeholders need to be present. Their information can be represented by an official from the local economic development agency or convention/tourism authority. However, the team should be strategically matched to the nature of the meeting. Representatives from the corporate commu- nity can be tactical additions to meetings with either incumbent or new entrant carriers. People to Include People who should be considered for being on the team for airline headquarters meetings include the following: ASD manager Airport director ASD consultant Representative from economic development agency (or equivalent) Representative from tourism authority (or equivalent)

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136 Passenger Air Service Development Techniques Generally, airlines prefer that an airport's delegation not exceed three or four people. Meetings are typically less than two hours long. Non-hub and small hub airports in the survey said that they often brought the following with them: Airport director or manager Consultant(s) Other airport official(s) Outside marketing professional Local elected officials (e.g., the mayor) People Not to Include Deciding who not to include can be difficult. Many airport employees are city employees. How does one say "no" to the mayor? Those who will add relatively little information not provided by other team members should be excluded. The relevant question is, What will it take to convince this airline to serve the com- munity, and who can best assist in making that argument? Generally speaking, from the airlines' perspective, elected officials are not considered to be helpful participants in a meeting. Political support can assist with finalizing the deal, but not in earlier discussions with the airline. When asked who they thought should attend meetings to discuss new or improved air service, air carriers said the following: Airport director or manager Consultant Not the local chamber of commerce (regarded as little more than a "cheerleader" for the com- munity) Not the mayor (regarded as generally adding no substance to the meeting) Appropriate Follow-up Effective communication is essential for successful air service development. The ASD process depends on building strong relationships with current and prospective airlines. A critical part of this is establishing and maintaining an open and ongoing dialogue with key airline planners. Year-Round Contact The ASD strategy should include consistent attendance at industry events and on-site airline headquarters meetings. It is important to remain on the radar screen of incumbent airlines, and to get on the radar screen of prospective airlines. Active participation in industry events and con- ferences can greatly assist in these efforts. It is important to gauge the level of interest of an airline in serving the airport and adjust goals and strategies accordingly, as repeated emails and phone calls could be counterproductive. On-Site Headquarters Meetings On-site headquarters meetings with incumbent carriers should not occur more frequently than once per year, and not less than once every two years. Such a frequency of face-to-face vis- its, supplemented by occasional telephone calls and email exchanges, should keep the airport abreast of key events at the airline and within the industry as a whole. The airport should pre- pare a formal presentation for this meeting, and the ASD consultant can assist in this task. Airline headquarters meetings generally last 60 to 90 minutes, so presentations that do not exceed 45 min- utes allow ample time for discussion.