Nick Story CEO Hawke’s Bay Airport talks about the positive impact of airline competition and the astonishing 18.9% growth rate in passenger numbers in the last 12 months.
GROWTH 8 mins 20 secs
We look at what the growth means for the airport and Hawke’s Bay and what it will take for Hawke’s Bay to become a trans-tasman flight destination when it can already support A320 and other large jet aircraft.
ADVERTISING 24 mins 40 secs
We also discuss advertising at the airport and unlocking the value of electronic media advertising for Hawke’s Bay businesses in the proposed new terminal.
EXPERIENCE 28 mins 1 sec
Nick talks about his experience at Shell and how that influences him to this day.
NAMING RIGHTS 34 mins 25 secs
When the airport name change will take effect and why it’s changing
PLUS Nick talks about the importance of ‘connectivity’ for tourism, local businesses, and business commuting and the hub and spoke approach to airline economics and passenger loading.
Give us your feedback in the comments below!
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Nick Story – Hawke’s Bay Airport 41
Interviewer: This is The Ryan Marketing Show and you’re listening to Episode 41 of 100. Today on the show I have Nick Story, Chief Executive of Hawke’s Bay Airport. Great to have you on the show, Nick.
Nick Story: Good morning, Ryan. Great to be participating in your interview series. Thank you for thinking of me.
Interviewer: Now, Hawke’s Bay Airport is obviously an iconic place that everyone recognizes who either lives here or travels to here. How do you make sure that with the facilities that that first impression is as great as it can be?
NS: Ryan, very good question. And that continues to be a work in progress for the airport company. We’d like, I’m sure you would agree, see ourselves as the gateway to Hawke’s Bay from a passenger perspective, whereas the port of sitting in a gateway from a freight perspective, so we’ve got a very important role to play here and to create a very welcoming environment that communicates a strong sense of place as to what Hawke’s Bay is all about. It is very much a work in progress, as you would’ve noted. There has not been a development about main terminal building since 2003, and so we’re currently working with project managers through a very exciting terminal redevelopment project, which we’re hoping will come out of the ground early in the 2017 calendar year, and that is all about doing everything we can to create a very welcoming gateway for all visitors to and from Hawke’s Bay.
Interviewer: I guess on that, one of the challenges in running an airport is you don’t necessarily know from year to year how many passengers or people welcoming those passengers are going to turn up, and you would have to make some forecasts. Looking back over the last few years in passenger numbers, they seem to be continually climbing year on year. Where do you see that heading and what type of facilities do you have to create to service those needs?
NS: Another great question, Ryan, in that until our financial year ended the 30th of June 2015, the cumulative average annual growth in passenger movements through Hawke’s Bay Airport averaged 3% per annum, so I guess if you like to beyond Hawke’s Bay, that was original growth number in New Zealand as the operator of the regional sales is at that time were very comfortable with, so all of our planning up until that point in time, even shortly after, was based on 3% growth in passenger numbers, which really was quite a certain number. So, to go back to the answer I gave you before on the new terminal and creating a welcoming sense of the place, when we originally developed the business cast for the terminal, based on 3% average annual growth rate, we thought the design live for the redeveloped terminal would be fifteen years, and at the end of fifteen years, our passenger numbers would hit 735,000 passengers, and so if you like, that was broadly 2030. And so, that’s what we were trending towards based on that 3%, and that’s what our original concept frame for the terminal, if you like, was and still is grounded on that 3% growth. However, following that financial year-end, obviously Jetstar entered our market and the consequences of competition at Hawke’s Bay Airport have been hugely significant. So, our annual report, which is about to go to print, will recall the fact that our growth and passenger numbers for the twelve months ending 30th of June 2016 has been 18.9%. So, incredible. So, we moved from about 476,000 passengers at 30th of June 2015 through to 566,000 passengers one year later. So, if you like, getting back to the terminal design life, what we are still deciding based on that original growth parameter of 3%, we will probably get there within the next five to six years based on that current growth forecast continuing on, which means that we will be redeveloping the terminal again, certainly much sooner than in a fifteen years timeline.
Interviewer: So, competition obviously a good thing not only for Hawke’s Bay Airport, but for the region?
NS: Absolutely. It’s huge. And so, what we see is that with a competitor airline coming here, they have not in any way encumbered Air New Zealand’s lunch. It’s actually grown the market, and we’re seeing a very wide demographic of passengers now moving through the airport; people that we haven’t seen previously simply because they can afford to fly. And if you go back to when Jetstar were analyzing the opportunities in selecting four ports from nine, people of Hawke’s Bay gave the airline a very clear message that they would support them when they came here. I’m delighted to tell you that they started flying on 1 December, and we’ve now just wrapped up the August financial month, and the reality is that the people of Hawke’s Bay have actually stepped up and they are tracking up the seats on the Jetstar aircraft, which is great, and that people that may not have flown before are flying frequently, so that’s actually grown the market. And Air New Zealand has also grown over there as well, which is a really great story. So, the flow on fortune’s Hawke’s Bay for more people coming and going from the region are fantastic; wonderful for the uptake of tourism, visitor accommodation, bed nights and things here, but are also enables businesses to connect with each other – business people coming into Hawke’s Bay or businesspeople flying out of Hawke’s Bay – and even, I would say to you, at an extreme end, that it’s now very possible to live in Hawke’s Bay and commute and work in Auckland Monday to Thursday or Monday to Friday. The costs of commuting have obviously dropped. So, really, the competition has tapped into the latent demand and grow in the market, which is a wonderful outcome, because that rising tide of competition has floated all boats; there are no losers in this scenario, so we’re really excited about that.
Interviewer: That’s a fantastic insight. I didn’t realize that it had had such a strong uptake, because when you’ve got that happening, it enables new business models to occur, it enables more tourists to come to the region, and different businesses here to flourish, so you’re almost like the flywheel that helps out businesses here or enables people to do business outside the region in a different way.
NS: Yes. Our word for that, globally we read a lot of that today, Ryan, is all about connectivity, and I guess people can connect whether it’s with businesses or whether it’s with friends and family, they can connect. And formally in New Zealand, a part of the Star Alliance, so you could connect from Hawke’s Bay to anywhere in the world via the Star Alliance partners. Well, now we’ve got Jetstar, we’re part of Qantas Group, we’re part of the One World network, so actually you can connect very seamlessly from Hawke’s Bay and here in Napier to anywhere in the world much easier than having to have baggage transfers and things, that now you can go through a computer alliance. So, that’s worked very well and made connecting so much easier, and just the whole world of travel now, the momentum, has increased greatly. And then the Sunday Herald yesterday – New Zealand Herald on Sunday – they were talking about the very cheap airfares that– was it China Air have now between New Zealand and Europe, and certainly London was another I picked up on, which again makes it easy for people to connect, and because of that, passenger numbers are growing everywhere and growing very strongly as the costs of air travel fall. So, it’s a really great opportunity for all of us in the industry.
Interviewer: And one of the questions around that, and I think anyone who thinks about the Hawke’s Bay Airport and flying internationally is when do we get the direct flights? And there’s probably not that understanding of just the complexity of what that requires both in airport extension or passport and security controls and quarantine. And going back to that figure of 18% growth, does that then bring that forward from a hundred years to ten years? Is there a formula that’s in the long-term plan at some point?
NS: Interesting, Ryan, and you too have raised that question, and I receive that question with a business context and gatherings or social context; people are very interested in when are we going to better flight trans-Tasman? One of the issues that had not been put to bed when I started as CEO three years ago was the whole question of trans-Tasman travel. The runway had been extended – people don’t know that, but the runway was extended out beyond 1700 meters, in about 2011-2012, I think it was Ryan, and then resurfaced early in 2013. So, our runway can already cope with larger jets, and if you go there to the early two– might’ve even been the 1990s, Hawke’s Bay was a port for the 737s as you might remember in New Zealand for the 737 jet aircraft in and out of Napier. So, it’s been done before and the extended runway can enable seventy A320s and other larger jet aircraft to come and go, but the issue that you are touching on really is the business model for the airlines themselves. And if you look at where we fit into Hawke’s Bay context or any regional context, that really does mirror the hub-and-spoke approach, so if you like, Auckland airport is the hub and Hawke’s Bay Airport is a spoke. So, the spoke actually feeds the hub and out of Auckland you can connect with anywhere in the world, so there are a whole lot of economics that are wrapped in up around the hub-and-spoke model. So, to go back a step, when I started here, we needed to put to bed one way or other at that time the issue of the trans-Tasman flights, so we– there’d been a number of projects completed at the time in various reports from external consulting agencies, and no two reports ever agreed, so they reached different conclusions.
And I recognize, I acknowledge there are people in Hawke’s Bay that are real advocates of trans-Tasman, and we’d all love to be able to step onto a plane this evening, or a Friday night, and end up in Sydney or Melbourne or Perth or Brisbane, and that is just the problem. We don’t have a large enough population base to fill a plane to anywhere on a routine and consistent basis. That just would not be economic for any airline to fly from Hawke’s Bay to one or more ports in Australia and be able to guarantee a full passenger loading each time. And so, that is a risk – it’s a risk to the airlines, but as I say, we have infrastructure, would love to see it used, but as part of our information gathered at the time we addressed this issue, we actually went out to a number of airlines and asked them who would like to operate the service, because obviously we are– one of our values, we are customer-focused, so we need to meet the airlines operational requirements. So, not one airline indicated any interest to fly trans-Tasman out of Hawke’s Bay, so we are the provider of the enabling infrastructure, but not the services themselves. So, it was very loud feedback from the market that no airline wanted to provide that service, Ryan. So, we actually thought, well, the public need to know where we are on this, so we took out editorials in the print media in partnership with shareholders, our local shareholders, communicating what we knew; that we’d done the homework, we’d pulled everything together, we’d reached the conclusion that at that point in time, it was unlikely that we’d have trans-Tasman services operating from Hawke’s Bay. We certainly didn’t shut the door on it Ryan, because at any point in the future, an airline might indicate that they would like to do that. But if you think back over history, Rotorua provided services from Rotorua to I think Sydney, which their local ratepayers subsidized to the tune of many millions of dollars. That model was not sustainable, and I think May of 2015, or thereabouts, the plug was pulled on trans-Tasman, so there are no services out of Rotorua.
There’ve been similar experience and possibly for different reasons and certainly out of my depth for commenting on it, but certainly Hamilton and Palmerston North have offered trans-Tasman in the past, and in my understanding it’s no longer offer them now. So, again, if you’d like, it reinforces the hub-and-spoke model that works very well for all airlines. I want to wrap up your question by saying– going back to the connectivity, right now on an average day during the week, we have forty scheduled aircraft movements in and out of Hawke’s Bay on an average day, if you like, so that means you’ve got twenty opportunities to fly out of Hawke’s Bay and then there are twenty opportunities to fly back into Hawke’s Bay.
So, you could say, very roughly, back of an envelope, basically every hour or so you can fly to Auckland during the day. That’s great connectivity. And then you can springboard from Auckland trans-Tasman if that’s where you want to go.
So, in view of what we know, in view of our discussions with airlines as part of the fact finding back when I started to resolve this matter, I’m following the Wellington Airport extension project with great interest, Ryan, to see what actually will end up happening there, because it’s a very similar issue isn’t it, and people there are talking about the enabling of connecting to Asia. But again, I’m hoping there’s a customer focus there and they’ll ask the customers who would like to utilize that infrastructure to enable them to do their thing, so that’s a very interesting space and I’d end by saying aviation is very volatile, which was why I said to you before at some point in time the circumstances might change here in Hawke’s Bay; we might get an international operator that’s happy to provide a direct service to Hawke’s Bay, but right now there’s not one airline that’s interested in providing that service, so that’s the status quo for now, Ryan.
Interviewer: And it sounds like the key enabler is something that not an airline can control and not the Hawke’s Bay Airport can control; it’s going to come down to fundamental numbers and population, demographic here. If there was an event that caused 20,000 or 50,000 people to move here, then that’s going to be the enabler, but that’s just not something that can be built into any plan.
NS: No. And one other point that I will touch on too is that we would require a security designation here in Hawke’s Bay Airport that enabled us to process international flights. At the moment, Hawke’s Bay Airport is accredited as a port of first arrival, so through the local businesses Skyline Aviation Limited and Air Napier Limited, the airport can actually host flights of commercial passenger jets – typically private jets that are carrying crew and passengers of no more than fourteen people, so they can come and go from here as they do, any hour of the day or night. So, we are licensed to enable that to happen, and obviously the local border agencies will come out to the airport to process those passenger movements. But to go back to the infrastructure required, if we were processing jet loads of passengers, we’d have to spend many millions of dollars in security infrastructure. So, your high perimeter fences right around the airport, we would have to have baggage screening, we would have to have Customs and Immigration and NPI on site, and the costs of enabling that international passenger process in direct need are very significant, and someone’s got to pay for that. So, who’s going to pay for that? Do the airlines pay for that or does the customer pay for that? So, if you add those costs and the need of the airport companies or cover those costs, ultimately, you’d think somewhere or other they would reflect in the ticket price versus the cost of flying out of Auckland or Wellington or Christchurch.
So, like you said, something that always has to be beared in mind: what’s the real objective of the traveling public? Is it the connectivity, which we think is enabled very well now with huge competition out of Auckland, for international, or is it ticket price? And when you think about the scale of the activity in Auckland, you have to say – only other major hub – you have to say the economics of such would be stronger than that of a regional center like Hawke’s Bay, and I’d suggest to that the airlines know that and so that’s why they’re reluctant to actually provide service direct from the region to somewhere in Australia. So, I hope that answers the question as comprehensively as I can to your satisfaction.
Interviewer: I think it does. I think as just a user of the airport as a passenger, it’s not immediately obvious just how complex all of those different moving parts are, and how much consideration has gone into trying to push those envelopes in different directions. And I would imagine you’ve got some pretty understanding shareholders given that the government owns 50% Napier City Council owns 26 and Hastings District at 24. What differences does that hold where your shareholders are councils and governments? What opportunities does that bring and what’s the kind of challenges that you have with that type of shareholder?
NS: Okay, I would summarize, and I’ve never worked in the public sector in my career, Ryan, and my observation has been certainly personified by the board and the directors that we have that gather round the [? 0:18:21.9] table each month. This company maintains a very commercial focus, so it’s run as a private company, and obviously there is– we have significant stakeholder and public interest in the business. And what really heartens me is that the public have a very high level of engagement in the airport, which is really unusual, but it’s a privilege for us to enjoy that interest. So, the public generally have a comment or an opinion on all and everything of what we’re doing, often reflected in the text to the editor of the newspapers and things like that, even down to the café operator. People are happy to pass comment about what’s happening, and that’s a lovely level of engagement; we try and harness that. And so, with this major terminal development project coming up, we’re working with the– a tertiary student, actually, from the OIT, and we have invited her to actually propose to us an optimal means of communicating to a larger and wider community to take them on the journey. And so, it’s a really exciting project, because everyone has some skin the game and has a real interest in the airport. So, going back to my comments, so we are run very much like a private business. The directors and management here are very proud to return a dividend to our shareholders every year. Last year we paid a record dividend. I’ve just– the annual report’s in front of me, just about to go to the printer’s version that you will see, and then your listeners won’t see what I’m showing–
Interviewer: I can add this up afterwards.
NS: — to Ryan now, but in terms of dividend, you’ll see there last year was a record dividend. We’ve got a record net profit after tax, we’ve had record passenger numbers, we’ve had record EBITDA, record revenue, and then our aircraft movements are also at record levels. So, you know, all of our flight paths are trending in the northern direction, so that is the point of having a very strong commercial focus, and then the reward of that commission activity is shared with our shareholder by way of a dividend, so there is a very strong commercial discipline around all of the decision making around the table. Why? Because the terminal development project is, one, is a multi-billion dollar project that the airport company will fund 100% from it’s own balance check. So, we don’t go to our shareholders for any financial contribution to the business at all. And so, it just happens to be, Ryan, that they are public entities, and the crown have a 50% holding through– held by the minister of finance, who has 25% of the shares, the minster of state-owned enterprises has 25% of the shares, and our key day-to-day relationship with the crown shareholder is through the treasury and the commission operations team at the treasury, then, as you pointed out, the local councils, and they get 26% and Hastings 24%. Sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it?
Interviewer: Yeah, why that slight 1%, 2% difference?
NS: Really interesting, and it’s got nothing more to do with anything other than history, and with the amalgamation of borough councils over the years, that’s just the way the numbers have fallen. So, as boroughs have amalgamated into councils, whether they be in Hastings or Napier, the subtotal of the population base or whatever it was, the righted base, whatever was represented at the time, it’s reflected in those numbers. There’s no more science to it than that. And obviously wouldn’t it be ideal if they were both 25%? But at the moment it’s 26-24. I have to say, and summarizing my answer there, shareholders are incredibly supportive shareholders; we work very hard to keep them informed as to what we’re doing. We have, obviously, formal meetings with the full elected councils or financed committees of the councils on a regular basis, we share our SOI with them, we share interim and annual resorts with them, but also very informally we catch up with the with the mayors occasionally or with the CE’s or other offices. It’s a great relation, and same with the crown: we keep trips to Wellington going, we’re having our AGM on the 25th of October, and our representatives on behalf of the minsters are coming for the AGM, and they’ll stay for the day and look, listen, and learn, understand what we do in the business or walk them through the projects. They can look around and just get a feeling for what’s reported in their reports and on the balance sheet; they can see it for themselves. We’re really looking forward to that. All part of the opportunity for engagement. But as I say, we are very mindful of the community engagement and interest in the airport, but it is run very much like a business, and I think the shareholders are happy about that. And how would you run a business? You’ve got to have happy customers – it goes right back to what you start– your opening question about that whole customer experience. It’s critical. We don’t take a monopoly provider position for granted whatsoever; we are very sensitive to how the customers of the airport feel, and so at the moment as you look around, you’ll see major capital investment in the customer experience. We conducted market research last year which indicated that our car parks need some increase in the level of service, so we’ve made investments there, and as you drove in this [morning? 0:23:35.0], you’ll see that we’re actually building a new car park to the southern end, extending the secure car park, both to cater for the dramatic growth in our passenger numbers, but also to provide an enhanced level of service so we’re not having people in high-heeled shoes or pushing luggage trolleys above and beyond and on broken pavement surfaces; they’ve got nice, svelte concrete to walk on with trolley bays and pedestrians and sufficient lighting and things, all going back to the customers, so we don’t take our status for granted. We run as though we are a business, and obviously customers are the only ones that put any money in anyone’s supply chain, so we don’t take our customers for granted, Ryan.
Interviewer: On that side of it, and I think people will notice all the substantial changes as they’re arriving at the airport, both in the car park and things you’re doing inside the terminal with the change of provider for the café, for example. Is there any plans to offer more opportunities for businesses to advertise with Hawke’s Bay Airport? You’ve go the billboards out there, you’ve got some internal billboards here; are there plans for more marketing opportunities for local businesses?
NS: Look, absolutely. Again, I hate to say it, when I started, but once again going back three years, I was astounded, and I’d never really taken– despite flying in and out of the airport, I hadn’t taken much notice of the environment, because generally you arrive on time to board the flight and then you arrive home and scurry off to your car and disappear, but what struck me about spending more time in the terminal was I thought it was quite a cluttered environment; the first indication of arriving at Hawke’s Bay and giving any sense of place was a vending machine parked right in the front of where passengers arriving at Hawke’s Bay were entering the terminal from the aircraft, and I thought we could do much better than that. So, we’ve tried to tidy it up over time, but recognizing that advertising space is very valuable, but I think there’s more we can do to unlock the value in the advertising but to reduce the cluttering effect, and so to give people the opportunity to advertise at the airport, but will be on a more exclusive basis I feel in the new terminal environment. So, and obviously we will be wanting to pick up on all of the benefits of electronic media and other communication channels as opposed to what we’ve done. You’re question on the billboard is a really good one. I’ve thought a little bit about that but wanted to be very careful about cluttering it up. But as we move forward, there’s lots of opportunities like advertising to create new revenue streams for the business, at which point it leads me into a very exciting development I’d like to share with you. Given the growth that we’re experiencing, the fact that our flight paths trend lines are very positive and heading north, the board have approved a proposal that I submitted to a recent board meeting for a significant increase in our staffing. So, this week, hopefully, we will place advertisements for two new executive roles, one of which is a commercial management role, which will be in charge with driving new revenue streams in the airport whether it’s the business part or whether it’s advertising or other opportunities. That’s usually exciting for us, Ryan, so I think for now it will be fair to say that we’ve not run on the smell of an oily rag, but we’ve lacked significant capacity in the management team to actually spend a lot of time identifying and taking advantage of real opportunities that exist, because we’ve been spread a bit lightly, and that’s particularly obvious as we grow. And there’s so much to do, so many opportunities, and where do you start? It’s a great problem to have, but we are addressing the resourcing now, which I’m very excited about.
Interviewer: Excellent. Sounds like the first part of that input and efforts gone into the foundations of how do you manage the growth and understand where growth is going to go, and now that that project has been approved and ready to start, you can then look at some of the add-ons like the commercial side or the marketing side.
NS: Absolutely. Get the foundation right. You’re quite right, yeah.
Interviewer: Given your background with some pretty well-known New Zealand companies like Aerocare or Fonterra Farmlands, and then your financial commercial background with BNZ and Westpac, how much or what have you been able to draw on from those experiences that you’re bringing to life here in a really great way?
NS: I’ll give you a practical example. I started my career– the one company you didn’t mention, which really was the foundation for everything I’ve built on since would be with Shell New Zealand. And of direct relevance to it, and it was many years ago that I was with Shell, but at that time I managed the company’s retail network on the East Coast including Hawke’s Bay for a period of two and a half years, very exciting times, but then I went on, I was promoted on to a position, the commercial team in Wellington. The head officer had some insight into the aviation market, so only last week or the week before, we’ve hosted both representative groups from Z Energy and the aviation team, but also in BP, because we have some infrastructure considerations to work on and to progress for our fuel on our air side in terms of the provision of Jet A-1 fuel, which we have, and also av gas, so what is the future. So, I’ve been able to draw on my knowledge of how those companies, how the supply chains work to say how can we optimize the commercial benefits for those businesses to be here on the airport? Where do they need to be located? Whose needs are they meeting? But based on a base knowledge of how their market works, right through from the supply chain of how the tanks are refilled, and therefore we obviously need to make sure we’ve got ground for very heavy articulated vehicles to– who have the refill on board, to actually come and to service the above-ground storage tanks and things like that. So, while that was directly relevant, but also in terms of their wider customer experience and international business and the likes of the Dairy Board, and just also the fast moving consumer goods, a lot of that is all about relationships and experiences. So, people do business with people that they like, is my experience, Ryan, so the reality is from my first day here, getting to know our most substantial customer that time Air New Zealand was critical, and I would say a relationship with Air New Zealand’s gone from strength to strength based on people – dealing with people – and then building off that base of trust and mutual respect. And it’s amazing what you can achieve when you take a team approach, so that’s the way we like to do it. And also just with our airside tenants and working out lease terms, which are fair and equitabile for all, which in the past maybe there’s been differences and different durations here. But going back to the philosophy of if you look after your customer, the numbers will look after themselves, that’s been a recurring theme for me, which I have been able to bring and implement here.
I talked about funding all of our developments of our own balance sheets, so my banking experience has been quite critical here in minimizing the cost of funding for the bank vicinities that we may have or may need in the future – not keeping the bank honest, but understanding both sides is very beneficial whether you fix, you’re borrowing, or whether you remain on a variable rate and having some intuitive sense of what the market’s going to do, that’s quite exciting for me, and it’s only because I’ve had experience in that and I can see both perspectives both sides of the fence. And I really enjoy that, so I have to say to you that my career history, it’s always about cross-pollination, and that was the philosophy in Shell. They would move people that would be in, for example, retail in one aspect of their experience, their next role might be in HR or in business strategy or move overseas to a foreign market for a couple of years. So, they believe in that cross-pollination, which is exactly what I’ve taken with me, and you saw my background is quite diverse in terms of going from petroleum and then ultimately into dairy and then into banking, and Farmland’s in there too. There’s always been a customer there, but you can actually take the learnings into your new role. And I would say to you in summarizing my answer that the last thing I needed coming into this business was airport or aviation experience. It’s been a great benefit not to have it, if that makes sense, Ryan.
Interviewer: So, that’s been the thing that you’ve been able to ask the really simple, easy questions of people who know far more about it because they’ve been here for some time.
NS: Absolutely. And it’s amazing. And one of my other philosophies is always ask the people that know so that we have a strong evidence base for everything that we do. We don’t overdo it, we don’t overcook it, we don’t let others come up with the answers, we’re not frightened to make decisions, but I mentioned before about the car parking last year or the evidence base for the terminal redevelopment, we talked to 800 people when we’re developing our concept plan for the terminal, and the opportunity was to engage with EIT School of Tourism to conduct the surveys, and it’s almost two years ago now, but what a wonderful robust evidence base that we had for the foundation of the new terminal project, including the food and beverage offered downstairs and the amenities in the terminal and on the car parking. Great, those people know, they’re our customers; why would you not want to meet their needs? And so again, that’s been recurring right throughout my career, Ryan, to be fair.
Interviewer: Look, that’s excellent insight, and just– I’ve got one more question before we finish up. On the front of the terminal it says Hawke’s Bay Wine Country, and we know that’s going to be changing to Ahuriri Airport Hawke’s Bay when that change comes into play. What’s the– when does that change happen? Does that happen when all the extension has been done or is someone going to be getting up there with a paintbrush fairly shortly?
NS: Let me go back, and again, I talked about capacity, and look, there’s so many good things and opportunities to take advantage of here in this organization environment, and Hawke’s Bay Wine Country is a straight line that’s now been superseded by something else, but those words still sit above our terminal out on airside, and a message that welcomes people when they get off the plane. So, that is unlikely to change to the new name of the airport company. A very simple greeting that we might put up there, which you see all over the world at other airports I’ve flown in and out of during on what I’ve seen might simply be, “Welcome to Hawke’s Bay,” which is all we need to say. So, that’s most likely to say, “Welcome to Hawke’s Bay.” You touch on the name and the changed name of the airport company. Now, that was agreed by the board and I’d be going back at least twelve months now, but the current name of our business is Hawke’s Bay Airport Limited, and the name of the airport is going to change to Ahuriri Airport Hawke’s Bay Limited, and that change in name will take effect when the new terminal development is opened. Whichever stage looks like it’ll be in the first half of 2018, Ryan, when that will happen. And so, why is the name changed? Well, it actually enables the airport company to reflect the strong historical links between Mana Ahuriri Iwi and the land upon which this airport sits. So, to clear up any misconceptions that anyone has, it’s no more that the airport land is not subject to any treaty claim or anything like that. The board, with support from management, firmly believe that it enables us to recognize the history of this land, which is really, really great, and the land is obviously very dear to the people of Mana Ahuriri, so why wouldn’t we? Why wouldn’t we? At the end of the day, people will know and call this airport whatever they want. Some people refer to it as Napier Airport. That’s fine. If that meets their needs, that’s great. It’s the airport, for other people. It’s Hawke’s Bay Airport to others, and as I say, it’s Napier Airport to others still, and then the name will change to Ahuriri Airport for others; others will pick it up, some may not, but look, at the end of the day, it’s not a big deal, but it does enable us to formally recognise the historical links with the wider land area, which is pretty exciting. So, I hope that addresses the issue for you.
Interviewer: It does, and I think most people will be happy to know that, at least from what I’ve read, that the luggage codes aren’t changing – the NPE will stay. So, as long as people receive their luggage at the destination, I think they’ll be very happy.
NS: Correct. So, NPE, at one level and the NZNR so nothing of that changes. Business as usual. The planes will still come and go every day.
Interviewer: Excellent. Well, look, that’s been great talking to you Nick and understanding more about Hawke’s Bay Airport, and some of the skills you will bring into be a– to develop into a fantastic place for Hawke’s Bay residents to come home to, for tourists to experience for the first time, and something closer to my heart is to be able to base yourself here as a business and then work in Auckland or anywhere around the world.
NS: That’s right. It’s great.
Interviewer: Thanks for your time.
NS: Thanks very much, Ryan. Lovely to meet with you. And it’s not all about me, it’s a team effort, so I work with a lot of other wonderful people including our board and my colleagues to make it happen, with the support of our customers. It’s a great story to tell that I’m thrilled to share with you today. Thanks, Ryan.
Interviewer: Excellent. Much appreciated.
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