Route planning: How airports can put themselves on an airline's radar
A key component of the strategic development of any airport is the continued development and attraction of new airline carriers and routes to help fuel growth.
As these conversations take place current and accurate data is absolutely key to making the case for new routes. However, some airports still present outdated or irrelevant information. That way, the short and therefore valuable time that airports have available to present themselves as a reliable partner often is not used to the fullest.
Jana Skornicka, Sales Director for the BEONTRA suite of traffic and route forecasting products has key tips for ensuring airports present relevant information when pitching a new route.
Don’t skip the fundamentals
Nobody knows your own market better than you. Surprisingly, some airports still neglect essential aspects such as the catchment area, market size, business potential, tourist highlights, the passenger mix or the corporate potential in airline interviews. Likewise, trivial airline facts should be omitted – don’t waste your time on presenting details like fleet size and current network. Instead, present your airport and region in the best possible light.
Prepare your business cases
When developing business cases, airports should focus on their own core area and analyze the passenger potential, expected passenger flows, growth assumptions, market shares and the revenue outlook in a detailed way. A dedicated profit and loss analysis should be reserved for the airline.
A wide range of data sources, including market information data (MIDT), billing and settlement plan (BSP) and airport statistics can be used. Some airports are experimenting with unconventional information such as mobile phone positioning data. However, BEONTRA’s client feedback has revealed that most airlines prefer industry standard data and are skeptical of alternative approaches or survey results.
Compare yourself to others
"Why should I fly to your airport?" is a question often raised in airline interviews. The comparison with competing airports should be taken into account during the case-building process. Strengthen your argument by being prepared.
For example, market data proving that the yield or share of business-class traffic is higher from your airport than from other airports might be of interest to the airline. Details like that can be the deciding factor to put you at the top of the airline’s list.
Think in scenarios
Will your interview partner share the assumptions you have made? Instead of presenting one distinct business case as being the single truth, discuss any assumptions and alternative scenarios with the airline. For example, if your forecast is based on the airline’s performance on routes that are already served, analyze several markets and prepare to explain similarities and differences. Enter into a dialogue with the airline which “like market” you consider as a benchmark for the proposed service.
Establishing a new route will require joint actions by the airline and airport. Starting this process with an open discussion helps build confidence and is essential to forming a fruitful collaboration.
Hold an engaging presentation
It is already late in the afternoon, the most important interview of the day is on. However, not only your, but also your airline counterpart’s energy levels are decreasing rapidly after a busy day packed with meetings. A convincing presentation is now crucial to not waste all the good work done before.
If your presentation is an eye catcher, it will leave a lasting impression. Charts created with Excel or PowerPoint using default settings are often boring. If you use them, don’t forget the fine-tuning and give them a touch of glamour. Consider working with specialized data visualization tools that create appealing graphs which go beyond standard bar or pie charts. Some route development tools even have integrated presentation capabilities, so use the chance to differentiate yourself from other airports.
A wow effect at the beginning of a meeting through an engaging presentation will increase your potential partner’s attentiveness and is a priceless advantage.
When you show your business case, don’t hold a monologue. Instead, encourage the airline’s representatives to give feedback and let them challenge your assumptions. If you enter the discussion ready to listen, you are on the right track.
During your entire airline related activities, keep in mind the overall objective - to build trust and to position yourself as an attractive and reliable partner.