Long Beach Airport (KLGB),
Long Beach, Calif.
Landing at the top in last year’s survey with an overall score of 9.6, AirFlite shares the honors again this year, according to AIN’s readers, earning top scores in three of the five survey categories. Clearly
a case of getting it right the first time, the Toyota-owned FBO has occupied the same 34,000-sq-ft building at the Los Angeles-area airport for the past 23 years. “We always reinvest in the infrastructure, one way or the other,” explained general manager John Tary. “We’re continuously upgrading what we have and investing in new technologies.” Among the refurbishments over the past year were a $100,000 redesign of the customer service desk and audio-visual equipment upgrades for the conference rooms, which seat 12 and 25, respectively.
The facility’s 70,000 sq ft of hangar space, which can accommodate the latest class of ultra-long-range business jets, has reached 85-percent occupancy, according to Tary, with 20 based turbine aircraft ranging from Gulfstream G450s to a Pilatus PC-12. While the number of large jets at the FBO (including a tenant’s MD-85, which remains outdoors) has remained fairly constant, the company has noted a recent influx of midsize jets.
One of AirFlite’s trump cards lies in Tary himself, who also serves as a G550 pilot in Toyota’s flight department. Not averse to integrating other winning strategies, when he learns of a flight that will be visiting another successful FBO, he requests to be assigned that trip. Such real-life industry involvement allows him to share an invaluable perspective with his staff. “We try to make this pilot-centric,” he told AIN. “All of our customer service initiatives are really based on my experience of going to hundreds of FBOs and trying to educate our CSRs to be able to understand and empathize with the crewmember who is on the road for 25 days a month.”
With that in mind, the front-desk staff is aware of all the newest hot spots, local events and latest activities and can quickly recommend a pleasant diversion, from electric bicycle tours to movie screenings at the beach. AirFlite has participated in Ritz- Carlton’s customer service training program since long before it was a requirement for FBOs in World Fuel’s Air Elite network, of which the FBO was a founding member. This year for the first time, the location’s line service staff will participate alongside the CSR staff. In one recent situation, a tenant pilot realized while boarding an airliner across the airport that he had left his cellphone in his car at the FBO. Using his copilot’s phone, he called the FBO. An AirFlite CSR scooped up the phone, navigated the outside perimeter of the airport, cleared security and somehow convinced the gate agent to re-open the cabin door and have a flight attendant reunite the pilot with his phone, much to the astonishment of his fellow passengers. “I’m sure they wanted to jump him, but that’s another story,” said Tary.
Until recently the location was also home to Toyota’s North American flight operations, but with the migration of its U.S. headquarters and flight department to Texas from California, industry speculation is rife regarding the future of the highly regarded facility.