Airports are starting to see a few more people passing through their gates. We may not just yet be at pre-pandemic levels—but it’s getting close. Those in the industry report that each week is getting better than the last. Bookings are starting to catch up; one airline’s bookings are running at just 20% below 2019 levels. Another reported that they will generate core cash for the first time in March.
Return to Normal Meets the New Normal
These highlights, all reported in an article from the Associated Press titled US air travel rises to highest levels yet since pandemic hit show promise. Even more promising? The only comparable bumps in travel happened during holidays—this rapid rise in travel is happening without a traditional travel holiday.
People are looking to get back on planes and go somewhere. Though business and international travel haven’t started their ascent just yet, the timeframe for recovery keeps getting shorter. Remember, this optimism persists while both of these fields aren’t even cleared for takeoff.
From the lifeline being thrown to airlines in provisions included in the third stimulus package to the increased travel coming as people get vaccinated and look to spend their personal stimulus checks, terminals will continue to see more movement in coming months.
For those in charge of the terminals, this is going to require new policies, procedures, and processes. You’ll be rehiring old workers, looking to secure new contracts with tenants, and implementing new safety protocols—something that could become even more challenging when traveler numbers come close to pre-pandemic numbers.
Knowing this, hiring might not be the same—you’re a lot more likely to invest in cleaning staff than office workers. Tenant contracts will likely be a bit less lucrative at the moment. Safety protocols will require you to think differently about space and timing. All in all, you can’t rest on your laurels—you need to have the right things in place before it gets truly busy.
Don’t Revive Old Practices in the New Normal
The path back is going to be filled with pitfalls. With fewer office workers in the early stages, one of the last things you can do is to force them into old processes that required twice the labor force as your current budget allows. As we discussed in our guide to positioning yourself for a ‘soaring 20s,’
“People, processes, and technology each play a role in your business. Humans are absolutely vital to your company—but there are some situations in which humans are inefficient (and often quite inaccurate). Data entry is one of these areas. As much insight as a person can deliver by applying insight on a computer output, input is a different beast.
The problem is that it’s not just the inefficiency, it’s the repetition. People are much more valuable when they actually use their brains instead of simply using their fingers. Something we discussed in our first article in the series, manual entry was one of the biggest challenges that our client JFK Terminal One Faced—and was able to address. This helped them build resilience and ensured their billing was completed before the borders were closed.
A Connected Terminal Management Solution Can Keep Things Flowing
From uncleared routes on air traffic control to a need for deicing, so many things can delay a flight. But these are measured in minutes, thanks in part to the work your team does to get things to flow. But no matter how great you are at delivering for airlines, what about your own processes?
Too often, running a terminal using manual processes can leave you slipping out of control. For your internal processes, pre-pandemic delays weren’t measured in minutes—they were measured in weeks or months. Case in point, our friends at JFK’s Terminal One. Attempting to use manual processes to manage pricing, invoice generation, and billing, the company found itself facing down a big backlog—and until they worked with us, there wasn’t exactly a solution designed to do what they needed.
Combining contract management, escalation, customer portals, and service request functionality, we helped them to see how everything worked together. Everything from tenant management to ancillary services including forklifts, air conditioning, a generator, and de-icing were simplified, saving this terminal management organization hours upon hours of work.
Three to Six Months Away from Terminal Velocity: MIBAR Terminal Management
Able to be implemented within three to six months, MIBAR’s Terminal Management for NetSuite was specifically designed with the airport terminal manager in mind. We spent three years developing this industry-specific extension of NetSuite’s ERP that delivers a unified experience for terminal managers.
This product is able to improve operational efficiency by up to 30%, incorporating contract escalation processes, third-party application extensions for workflows and various other customized elements that an airport terminal manager may need.
Watch Now – Cleared for Takeoff: Challenges and Opportunities for Terminal Management in the New Normal
With travel ramping back up, airports are starting to see activity once again. If you’re looking to avoid the back-office pain points that come with a full flight board, you can’t miss our webinar. Click here to watch now.