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Introduction

A Fixed Based Operator (FBO) is a type of business which is given authority by an airport or any relevant aviation authority to render aeronautical services to flight companies. It may also refer to a service center for aero-planes and jets. In most cases, the fixed based operators have their own flights or airlines. Due to high operational costs in repositioning of aircrafts, most fixed based operators serve clients within localized regions (Taneja, 1987). They serve customers within their neighborhoods. However, this does not imply that they do have limited markets. Some FBOs have extended their services to the foreign and international markets. FBOs offer aeronautical services such as jet fueling, hangaring, parking space for planes, aircraft rentals and hire services, maintenance and repairs among the others.

The operations of all fixed based operators are regulated by the relevant authorities in their respective regions of operations. For example, in the United States of America, FBOs are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It is the duty of the United States Department of Transport in collaboration with FAA and National Air Transportation Association (NATA) to regulate, standardize, and control the activities of fixed base operators. The fixed based operators are mandated by law to meet all safety and performance standards prescribed by the Aviations Act. This is to ensure that the consumers receive the quality of services they deserve.

Moreover, due to their daily interactions with the various clients and the aviation industry stakeholders, fixed base operators are capable of gathering adequate skills and knowledge on a range of issues that related to this industry, for example, current developments in aviation technology, safety travels, and online flight booking services among the others.

Background Information

Fixed Based Operators developed as a result of the continued growth, development, and maturity of the aviation industry. When the airports were constructed, air transport business sprang up. Consequently, there was a need for additional services to the aircrafts such as repair stations, fuelling services, charter operations, and flight instructors. Business persons and organizations emerged to offer these services at designated areas where they could be easily accessed. The providers of these auxiliary services to support the aviation industry were concentrated within the localized regions, and hence, the term ’fixed base’ emerged.

The Aviation Industry Survey conducted in the first quarter of 2009 by Aviation Resource Group International (ARGI) revealed that there were more than three thousand (3000) fixed based operators in the US market alone. Examples of modern FBOs include Airflyte, Five Star Jet Center, and Stratos Jet Charter Services.

How Airflyte and Five Star Jet Centre Meet Community Aviation

Needs and Provide Essential Transportation Services

Airflyte is an example of a modern FBO that mainly provides support services to aviation operators. Some of its services include: sale of aviation fuel to aircrafts and jets, provision of taxi hire and air charter services, air courier services, repairs and maintenance of aircrafts. In order to meet the increasing demand for high qualified pilots in the aviation industry, Airflyte also provides the highly professional pilot training services.

Airflyte provides aircraft rentals to passengers with special needs. Additionally, it also sells aircrafts. To ensure the complete customer satisfaction, Airflyte provides regular check-ups and after-sale services to customers who purchase its aircrafts, for instance, a free six-months servicing for the aircraft sold. It also sells genuine aircraft spare parts.

In the recent past, most airports have experienced traffic jams due to less storage facilities at the airports. To solve this problem, Airflyte has constructed ample storage facilities for aircrafts and personal cars. These storage facilities are situated next to the airports and hence can be easily accessed by passengers. In attempts to ease travelling of passengers, the company offers spacious restrooms and waiting rooms for its clients. The hotels provide highly personalized attention to customers. The FBO provides clean hotel rooms which are very secure and safe. It also provides communications services such as telephone calls, free and fast internet and Wi-Fi access points. According to one of its managers, hungry passengers are not allowed to depart unless their hungers have been quenched by the food vendors or restaurant attendants. Airflyte also strives at solving transport problems through the prior planning and arrangements for transport services, such taxi hires on behalf of the passengers before they could demand for the following services.

Another good example of a modern fixed base operator is The Five Star Jet Centre, which is situated at Westfield-Barnes Airport. The Five Star Jet Centre offers attractive services to clients within the neighborhood of Westfield-Barnes Airport. According to its Chief Executive Officer, the Centre offers a wide range of restaurant facilities to passengers. Additionally, the Ranch Golf Course is located within the Centre. The Golf Course provides adequate recreational facilities to passengers.

Due to the hard economic times and high prices of aircraft fuel, the Five Star Jet Centre offers fuelling services at the pocket friendly rates. The services can also be obtained after a customer makes a telephone call to the company, a policy which the company describes as taking services to the costumers’ doorsteps. Additional services provided by the Centre include baggage handling, lavatory services, hangering space, and complementary foods such as fresh fruits and bottled drinks. In order to attract more customers, Five Star Jet Centre offers free vehicle parking services for the passengers. According to Kotler and Armstrong (2010), a delighted customer who had been served by the organization’s employees described the services as very reliable, fast, and affordable.

Moreover, some of the strategies that the two companies employ in order to gain competitive advantage over their competitors that enhance their goals to provide the high level customers services include strategic pricing techniques such as penetration pricing, intensive promotional approaches, like advertising, personal selling, and focus strategies.

The Five Star Jet Centre is famous for charging low prices on flight fuelling. Most consumers are price sensitive and would go for services that are less costly. On the other hand, Airflyte offers the after-sale services to its customers. In my view, this has helped it develop a strong base of the loyal customers. The company also assures and guarantees its customers the quality of aircraft spare parts.

According to the company’s marketing president, customers are its main focus. The president also asserts that the most important objective of the company is to identify the various needs and wants of the consumers, analyze these needs and then develop and implement appropriate strategies that would see such needs fully met and satisfied. The company achieves this by conducting the market research studies to identify any change in customers’ wants and preferences. At Five Star Jet Centre, the employees are servants to the customer and not to the organization (Doganis, 2006). They will do everything possible to ensure that the customers’ expectations are not just met but rather exceeded.

Furthermore, both Airflyte and the Five Star Jet Centre have greatly invested in the employee training and development. They usually encourage their employees to highly advance in their career paths. Through the continuous employee training and development, the companies have been able to offer highly quality services to their customers. According to Doganis, meeting the customers’ needs has helped Airflyte reduce additional expenses that would otherwise be incurred, for example, it has greatly saved money on advertising and filing customer complaints (Doganis, 2006). The organizations have fully explored the market and understood what their customers want. They know the standards of services needed by the customers. Through the provision of quality transport services, the companies have created exceptional travel experiences that the customers often long for. The companies thus perform beyond the average services levels expected by the customers.

A critical study at the records of Airflyte and the Five Star Jet Centre revealed that they both have a special department called the guest recognition unit which is responsible for keeping a database of all previous customers. The unit gathers, records, and analyses important data about the customers’ likes and dislikes, frequency of purchase, occupation, place of residence, and personal interests. This helps the organizations in understanding the consumers better. This information is useful in determining what is new or different about a particular customer, and helps in strategizing how to deal with such differences in the consumer’s needs.

Additionally, Airflyte is also well-known for keeping the promises it makes to its customers. The company usually accurately delivers dependable services as it promises, for example, it has never failed to meet a deadline set to deliver a spare to the customer place of preference (Doganis, 2006).

Last but not least, these two organizations have created and maintained the strong relationships with its consumers. This has helped them in building trust of customers in the services they offer.

Conclusion

I would conclude that there are many ways in which the fixed base operators can meet and exceed the expectations of the customers. First and foremost, the FBO should know its customers. It should never cease to gather information about its current and potential customers. By finding out the various air transport needs of the customers, determining when the services are needed and why some consumers would prefer specialized transport services, the organization will be able to formulate appropriate strategies to satisfy these varied needs. For instance, some of the things to consider in knowing the air passengers better are lifestyles, occupation, health issues, and urgency of the travel among the others.

Secondly, a fixed base operator should strive at understanding the various needs, tastes, and preferences of the customers. According to Wensveen and Wells (2007), service providers who want to satisfy their customers must first identify their needs and then determine how to satisfy such needs. The FBO should thus find out what customers are expecting, their tastes and preferences, and the levels of transport services in the aviation industry.  

Thirdly, the organization should be in a position to fully meet the customers’ expectations. A fixed base operator should tailor its transport services in a manner that best suits the passengers’ needs, for instance, there should be short or no queues at the booking stations, a call center to provide assistance to customers through telephone calls, and a well-established marketing department to inform the customers on the available transport services provided by the fixed base operator.

Fourthly, the organization should encourage teamwork amongst its employees. This will facilitate flow of activities within the organization and hence an effective and efficient provision of transport services.

A fixed base operator can also deploy employee rotation within the organization. In my opinion, this will help in increasing the employees’ knowledge on other sectors of the organization. Adequate knowledge of operations of the whole organization can result into the incredible provision of services.

According to Brady, for any organization to stand out and excel in the competitive air transport industry, it must be able to deliver the core services required by the consumers (Brady, 2001). An organization should also be able to treat all its customers equally, regardless of whether they are regular or first time customers. This is because the first-time customer will be enticed to come again after an excellent treatment, and the regular customer will talk good of the company and its services. As marketing gurus, Kotler and Armstrong put it across, one delighted customer will often talk good of the company and hence create unintentional publicity (Kotler & Armstrong, 2010). He or she is most likely to come back with nine other new customers.

The organization must be well-informed about the current trends in the industry as well as about the emerging issues that would affect its operations. Similarly, it must be flexible enough to quickly adapt to the changes in the air transport industry and take corrective and preventive measures that would help keep its services quality miles ahead of the services of its competitors. In my view, meeting or exceeding customers’ expectation in the airline industry is like climbing up a high mountain. This is because the industry is very competitive and the customers will always expect excellent services.

However, industry providers are capable of going an extra mile to meet the dynamic demands of customers. The biggest question is to ask themselves how they can meet and exceed the customers’ expectations. The first step in meeting to satisfy customers is to identify their expectations. What follow is the formulation, development, and implementation of strategies to meet such expectations.

Furthermore, the airline industry players must recognize and understand their interdependency on other industries such as the tourism sector. Organizations can provide valued added services such as cab services not only to beat competition but also to exceed what the customers are expecting (Wensveen & Wells, 2007).

Additionally, the companies should invest a lot in the employee training and development. They should be very selective during their recruitment and hiring procedures. The staff should ask the customers how they would to be treated. Business managers should understand the gap between the perceived value and the actual value of services received by the customers.

Last but not least, the fixed base operator should embrace modern technologies in its operations. This will assist it gaining a competitive advantage over other industry players. For instance, an acquisition of the online air-ticket booking systems will speed up reservations within the organization. Passengers will thus spend less time when booking their air tickets. Similarly, an acquisition of the Management Information Systems (MIS) by the fixed base operator will enable it to keep a reliable database of its consumers. The information stored and generated by the MIS can be used by the FBO to make a vital decision pertaining a provision of its services.

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