Hope is on the horizon. The airline industry is starting to climb out of the recession, but it could be years before business travel returns to its pre-recession level, if it ever does. Pre-recession, business travel was the most important growth segment for passenger airlines. Unfortunately, the recession forced frequent corporate travelers to adopt less expensive telecommunication strategies. While a mild increase in business travel is anticipated as the recession eases, few analysts expect a return to “the glory days.”
The decline of business travel is just one of many pressures forcing change in the airline industry. FBO managers report a decline in customer loyalty directly related to the recession. Cash-strapped aircraft operators shop around for FBOs willing to offer a better price. As reported in our October 19 post, some airlines are taking their maintenance and repair business to foreign FBOs to take advantage of cheap labor.
To survive FBOs will need to provide more services at a better value — do more with less. It’s the same problem most U.S. businesses are struggling with these days. Lindy’s versatile, ergonomically-designed aircraft tugs allow FBOs to maximize their use of employees while minimizing the number of employees needed to keep operations running smoothly.
Some interesting and creative solutions to improving airline industry revenues are popping up. In Columbus, Ohio, Port Columbus officials recently entered into a five-year pact with 10 airlines guaranteeing them a share of airport revenues in exchange for maintaining and improving services for Columbus travelers and shippers. The Columbus Regional Airport Authority agreed to hold down costs on rent, landing fees and other airline charges. Cooperative partnerships like this could be the wave of the future.