Aberdeen airport has moved in step with the city's economic success as Europe's oil capital and is now BAA's fastest growing airport in the UK. Managing director Kevin Brown talks to Working Week about his role
Tell us about your experience in the aviation industry.
It started four years ago, when I spent a year working for BAA in an engineering role at London Heathrow airport. I then moved back up to Aberdeen and before my appointment as managing director in February, I worked in several roles, including customer services director and engineering general manager for Scotland, covering Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports.
I was appointed managing director to replace Andy Flower, who left to take over at London Gatwick airport.
My background before aviation is in engineering in the utilities sector, working for companies such as Scottish Hydro-Electric, which was very customer-focused, combined with a large element of project management. These attributes are vital in my role as managing director, where I am working with a large workforce to deliver the smooth running of the airport and contribute to its growth within the BAA group.
What are the main factors behind Aberdeen's recent strong performance?
Being awarded a 24h opening licence three years ago has driven our growth by 14%. Charter companies see us as being more trustworthy and more flights are now coming in because we don't have a 22.30 restricted landing time. We have also introduced 30 new routes in the last three years. Most recently, we have seen Globespan invest $50 million in a new Boeing 737-700 based at Aberdeen to serve seven destinations. With our proximity to the offshore industry, we also have a large number of helicopter movements, the largest in Europe, transporting 400,000 passengers annually.
Being based in the north-east of Scotland, how difficult is it to recruit staff?
The unemployment rate in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire is only about 1.5%, so it is a tough market to recruit from. However, we are very particular about the calibre of people we want to work here. It is important that the people we appoint share our values about providing the right customer service.
We make new appointments throughout the year - we have just appointed new health and safety and public relations personnel, and in response to the recent restriction imposed on liquids that could be taken through security by passengers, we recently appointed 20 new security officers and installed a new x-ray machine to increase security and reduce queue lengths.
What are your priorities for Aberdeen airport over the next year?
There have been calls for a number of years for a transatlantic route between here and Houston, which I am keen to deliver. We know the demand is there from the workers who travel between the two cities using different hubs and it would make sense to bring these two oil capitals together.
Work is ongoing to complete the airport's runway extension, which was approved last year, along with investment to enhance passenger throughput, including an extended international arrivals hall.
In addition, we are looking at achieving further yield in Europe and are in discussions with a number of airlines.
Source: Flight International