We can learn lessons from Reno airport’s business model

We can learn lessons from Reno airport’s business model

Guest column by Phil Satre • Special to the RGJ • January 23, 2011

Reno-Tahoe International Airport is one of this region’s most important economic engines, and it will play a vital role over the next five years as the community rebounds from the recession and diversifies the economy.

What keeps that engine tuned and running at high speed are CEO Krys Bart, her seasoned management team and an impressive and independent group of Reno Tahoe Airport Authority trustees.
Nevada organizations don’t often find themselves on the positive sides of rankings, but thanks to a sound business strategy and outstanding execution, RNO is a leader in the community and in the aviation industry.

The Air Transport Association ranked Reno-Tahoe International the No. 1 airport in the nation for flight recovery in the third quarter of 2010 over the same quarter in 2009. Ms. Bart was named the best airport director in America in 2007.
And in the middle of a recession, the airport is flying high with statistics the business community should be cheering. Cargo at RNO had grown for 11 consecutive months, and passenger numbers have risen for six straight months.

We are truly fortunate to have such a terrific airport and aviation leadership in our community. The four million passengers the airport brings through our region each year are now more important than ever. The employees and owners of our casinos, hotels, ski resorts, golf courses and many other area businesses would be even more severely impacted in the economic downturn without the high level of air service provided by RNO. All those airport boarding passes translate into lift tickets. Filling airline seats means heads in hotel beds.
But the airport’s economic impact goes beyond great air service. In the past two years, three respected general aviation businesses have opened operations at RNO. The Dassault Falcon service center, Million Air and Western Jet Aviation will bring a combined total of $90 million in economic impact over the first five years of their operations. These additions, combined with Atlantic Aviation, provide the airport with four highly respected operators that serve corporate or general aviation customers.

These important additions to economic diversification will bring more revenue to the airport and keep airline costs low. At the same time, these businesses will introduce Northern Nevada to an impressive clientele of corporate jet owners from around the world.
Considering what a successful enterprise the airport is in our community, rather than criticize its leadership, we should be learning lessons from the successful airport business model and capitalizing on its ability to be an economic engine.
Phil Satre is chairman of NV Energy Inc. and IGT.

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