Over the last 25 years, Vantage Airport Group has been involved with more than 30 airports worldwide, working on a wide range of airport development, redevelopment, management and investment projects. With this in mind, we asked Chair and CEO George Casey to talk about the latest projects Vantage is working on, and to share the secrets to the organisation’s success and what challenges he’s facing even after his 30+ years in the airport sector.
What makes your partnerships so successful? Give us the top 3 characteristics.
We’ve been involved with over 30 airports, and one thing we’ve learned is that when you have seen one airport, you have only seen one airport. What we’ve been able to do is to bring our partnership approach to local markets and environments to help with initiatives that allow owners, sponsors, airlines and others to develop the airport into a competitive and best-in-class facility.
One of the key characteristics in making these projects successful is defining objectives – objectives that are beneficial for the sponsor, whether that’s a port authority, the city, county, or government. You need to define what you want for the airport programme, the structure and partnership.
Then, you need to find a way to leverage the best practices of the private sector in meeting those objectives, while understanding that the public side still has a role. So it’s finding that sweet spot where the objectives of the public sponsor meets private sector expertise.
One thing that we have learned is that even with defined objectives and solid planning practices, the dynamic nature of our market demands flexibility, which challenges you to look at things in a new way. Even with a structure, which you generally adhere to, you have to be flexible, innovative and creative. You have to build a degree of transparency and respect, which will allow the partnership to work. That way, when you are facing a new challenge or opportunity, the trust you’ve built will support your efforts.
In addition, there needs to be a balanced outcome. We’ve been involved in projects that start with an imbalance in the allocation of risks or implementation, but have worked to reach more of a middle ground where each party’s strengths are leveraged. This is key.
Our experience has also taught us that thinking about success means thinking about key stakeholders that are involved. Not just those who are at the table, but those who had a vested interest in the operation, the facilities, and the commercial endeavour. So we need to think broadly when balancing outcomes, how the project impacts various stakeholders and involve them in the process as much as possible – that is part of our success.