vice president, World Fuel Services (WFS) talks disruption and delivering
personalisation to support the future growth of airports and the business
trend hits the regional airport and business aviation sector
here is a famous saying by Henry
Ford that has stuck with me for a long time: "Any colour car, as long as its
It’s an almost unrecognisable
sentiment now, in an age where we all expect to be able to customise everything
from our coffee to the interior of our car.
Unfortunately, the idea that
customers have no choice but to buy ‘off-the-shelf’, so to speak, has stuck in
the aviation fuel sector. Legacy providers continue to produce jet fuel and sell
it directly to customers, often also taking on the management of the whole
supply chain at the same time. It’s a simple but commercially effective model -
for the fuel supplier. But, in a rapidly changing and highly competitive sector,
a one-size-fits-all approach is not the best choice for FBOs and airport
An approach proven in other industries
WFS is pioneering a new approach
that is built on made-to-order solutions to meet genuine customer needs,
throughout the relationship. Everything else - flexibility, innovation and a
desire to drive down customers’ costs - falls under this. We are committed to
investing in the future of our industry and we treat every customer as a
partner. We listen, we consult and we challenge. We look to work as an extension
of a customer’s team, bringing to the table our global reach and expertise as
well as regional teams and local knowledge.
We see services and solutions
like Lego bricks; we find the right ones for the model the customer requires and
build a bespoke offering to meet that requirement. Our business model is more
agile - entrepreneurial in its set-up - than the larger legacy providers and
this has allowed us to adapt to the market and offer something new, exciting and
much-needed as a way to reinvigorate the business aviation sector.
Beyond fuel to value creation
What we are increasingly finding
with customers, and hearing broadly across the industry, is that operators would
like a one-stop-shop provider who can offer everything from fuel supply to
catering services. That is why we see our role as a partner to airports, as
being able to offer much more than fueling services. As well as offering a range
of services and solutions including training, card payment processing and
digital planning tools, we are also strategic consultants who aim to support
customers in meeting their commercial objectives.
A good example of this is
our work with XLR Executive Jet
Centre, Birmingham. The general
aviation ramp at Birmingham Airport was not being serviced with a convenient
fuel supply, instead having to settle with sharing a truck across the site,
which was leading to issues with turnaround times and low customer satisfaction.
The previous fuel supplier had not tackled this problem, despite the opportunity
to drastically improve the offering.
Following the fuel farm storage
solution we put in place to meet fast growing fuel demands of Birmingham
Airport, we worked with XLR to create a new full-service FBO. Via our accredited
training offering, XLR now has qualified drivers and in-to-plane fuel handlers
that give XLR autonomy and responsibility for bringing fuel to its customers as
its needed, ensuring consistent service. Alongside flexible payment services and
best value fuel provision, our work with XLR has reduced costs and created new
revenue streams for XLR Executive Jet Centre at Birmingham, leading us to expand
our partnership with XLR to its site at Liverpool Airport.
Future-proofing the sector
We are taking a proactive
approach to understanding our customers’ problems. We develop solutions that
address long-standing challenges in the market for airports, FBOs and customers.
Our ability to manage pricing, quality, value and innovation throughout the
supply chain is central to our differentiation, and testament to this is our own
expanding business. We are proud to say we are winning more and more customers
across Europe all the time.
The future of business aviation
in Europe is looking pretty bright right now. Figures are showing a good
forecast for 2018 but this is only going to be achieved if suppliers and
operators alike look to future-proof themselves.
This starts with remodelling the
sector for the twenty-first century, and for us this means making things easy
for our customers and keeping them at the heart of everything we do.
BlueSky Business Aviation News | 10th May 2018 | Issue #463