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View from the cockpit

View from the cockpit with Sandy Nelson
Sandy Nelson, Million Air’s chief brand and business development officer, on creating FBOs that stand out from the crowd and developing a network-wide strategy to control, reduce and offset carbon emissions by the end of 2023. 

 

Million Air has more than 30 years’ experience of FBO operations with facilities throughout the US, Canada and the Caribbean. What makes your FBOs stand out from the crowd? 

 

The most notable differentiator with Million Air is our service culture. For years we have been tracking customer feedback and it’s not unusual to see comments such as, “whenever I visit a Million Air FBO, everyone is engaged and cares about my needs.” It’s not just about beautiful facilities or our ability to meet expectations, this feedback comes from the heart of every customer and is based on the level of service and engagement they experience. We focus on hiring the right talent for the right role. An employee’s first day with us isn’t on-the-job training, it’s about them experiencing the Million Air culture. By focusing on our culture as the most important aspect, our employees understand customer expectations and can deliver that personalised experience at each FBO. 

 

What can customers expect from their Million Air experience? 

 

From the moment an aircraft taxis onto the ramp our services are operated with military precision and when customers step out of their aircraft onto the tarmac, every passenger and flight crew member is treated like they are the most important person in that facility. Their needs are not only met, but they are also anticipated and delivered. Only highly engaged team members can deliver that level of focus. When an employee is genuinely engaged and “360 aware,” they are constantly seeking out opportunities to serve and not just react to service needs. 

 

What criteria do you look for when acquiring a new FBO facility? 

 

Our analysis differs for each prospective Million Air FBO. Naturally we look for cities with flight connections that pair with our other Million Air airport locations. However, just as important are airports that are trying to deliver a better service and a more efficient gateway to a city and its surrounding region. The airport is the first and last point of entry to a destination and can leave a lasting impression. As such, we recognise that executives and leaders often arrive at a city prepared to make decisions to build, expand, or grow in that location. Their first experience at the FBO as the front door to that city helps set the stage for whatever decision they’re in town to make. We are committed to optimising that experience at each of our locations.  

 

How integral are fuelling services in your day-to-day operations? 

 

Fuelling services are fundamental to our daily operations, but they are also part of the wider dynamic of our overall offering to ensure safe, efficient operations. This is integral to ensuring a seamless flow of air traffic and optimal customer experience, for which preparation is key. Our teams participate in “Daily Take-Off” sessions, which involve every employee at the beginning of every shift gathering into a huddle to read a “micro-training” story about safety, teamwork and service, etc.  After their “Daily Take-Off”, the team then reviews and plans for the arrivals on their shift. This includes understanding which aircraft are coming in, what services they need including refuelling, what’s unique about that aircraft or customer’s service requests, and how to go the extra mile to “wow” customers.  

 

How do you benefit from your partnership with Air bp?

 

We enjoy a professional and close working relationship with Air bp. As a trusted and respected brand, Air bp’s consistency in delivering safe, reliable fuel supplies and services is something we can rely on. We also benefit from the company’s Sterling card programme in terms of reaching a wider audience as well as its commitment to decarbonising aviation, which helped kick-start our Beyond Green sustainability programme. 

 

What does your network strategy to control, reduce and offset carbon emissions at all network-wide locations by the end of 2023 entail? 

 

We started developing our Beyond Green sustainability programme following conversations with Air bp in early 2021, which involved assessing and measuring the carbon footprint at our corporate-owned FBOs. This initial assessment was key to determining where we should focus our efforts to not only reduce, but also replace some of the ways we were emitting greenhouse gas emissions. Our programme not only focuses on our own carbon footprint, it also enables us to look for opportunities to be better stewards of the environment. This includes initiatives such as more efficient recycling, replacing Styrofoam with compostable cups, and, as technology and GSE advancements develop, we expect to be early adaptors of GHG reduction equipment. We will also sign up to NBAA’s recently announced Sustainable Flight Department Accreditation Program for FBOs across our network. 

 

What’s in Million Air’s pipeline for the year ahead? 

 

We recently added an FBO in Marathon, Florida in the US, as well as Kalaeloa in Hawaii and El Paso in Texas, where we are also adding an FBO at Laredo Airport. We have several other locations opening in new regions soon, including Fort Collins in Colorado. In addition, we are anticipating a move into Latin America in the next few years. 

 

Private aviation has proved its resilience and experienced something of a boom since the start of the pandemic, what lessons have you learned from the last two years? 

 

At the beginning of the pandemic, we knew when commercial aviation started shutting down, there would be a lag to services restarting. We were prepared for the early use of private aviation once the world started opening up again, especially in the US where most private aircraft are registered.  

 

Lessons learned are still in the making. Keeping our culture strong and consistent across the network is our most significant focus while we work through the changing environment of today’s workforce. 

 

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