Long Beach Airport/Daugherty
Field (KLGB), Long Beach, Calif.
AirFlite is a perennial top performer in AIN’s annual survey. This independent, Toyota-owned FBO garnered the overall top ranking from AIN’s readers this year, and in the process earned the top score in the categories of passenger and pilot amenities. In the same facility at Long Beach Airport for nearly a quarter-century, the company lavishes attention on it to keep the 34,000-sq-ft terminal looking immaculate and fresh. Always eager to stay on the cutting edge of technology, the company upgraded its Wi-Fi connectivity over the past year with a highspeed,
fiber-optic Internet connection, a project that involved installing nearly a mile of underground cable to the airport, to give customers the same data streaming speed they expect at home. The facility, one of five service providers on the field, claims 40 percent of the GA traffic at the airport, and general manager John Tary reported a 5-percent gain in business over the past year, which translated to a total jet fuel flowage of 1.5 million gallons for the location last year. He also noted full occupancy of the FBO’s 60,000 sq ft of community hangars (which can accommodate aircraft up to a G650), and 65,000 sq ft of private hangars suited for small jets and turboprops. Currently it is home to 25 turbine-powered aircraft ranging from a G550 to a pair of PC-12s. A customer’s
MD-85, too large to be sheltered, stays outdoors.
Customer Service Focus As it is at any top performing FBO, superior customer service is a given, and AirFlite’s staff earned the second highest score in the category over the past three years. “We always empower our associates to do whatever is necessary,” said Tary, who is also a G550-rated pilot in Toyota’s flight department. “We put a lot of faith and trust in our folks to do the right thing for the customer, whatever that takes.” Aside from the Ritz Carlton training, the staff follows Tary’s lead. “Being a pilot,
I’ve been on the other side of the fence, and I know what the customer wants,” he told AIN. “In our mind, to do exactly what the customer asks you to do is 85 percent. The other 15 percent is the unexpressed things that we also try to do.” As part of the Toyota empire, AirFlite’s staff has access to company-wide job listings and it occasionally experiences staff vacancies as team members move to other areas within the corporation. Tary spends three days personally instructing new employees in the FBO’s and Toyota’s customer service and safety culture. “The biggest thing I always try to instill in our CSRs is that our clients are not just our guests at AirFlite,” said Tary. “We’re hosts to them but we’re also ambassadors to our city.” To that end, training includes taking the CSR staff on city tours to familiarize them with locations so they can provide directions and recommendations.
To establish cohesiveness between the CSR staff and line service technicians, the company occasionally has members of both swap roles for the day, “so they can experience each other’s trials and tribulations,” said Tary. “A lot of places I’ve visited, customer service and line service don’t always work together that well, and you can see it… because the left hand is not talking to the right hand.” AirFlite was a founding member of the Air Elite network, which now has 51 locations. The company has taken on a mentorship role in the network, according to Tary. It hosts “mini-internships” where member locations can send their own general managers or customer service supervisors to see firsthand what brings Air- Flite’s satisfied customers back year after year, and report back to their companies. That satisfaction can take many forms, including one recent situation where the wife of one of the FBO’s tenants wanted to surprise her husband with a new Gulfstream G550. She managed to purchase the new aircraft without his knowledge and–with the help of the conspiring FBO staff–lured him to a conference room packed with his friends. As the group yelled surprise, his attention was drawn to the new twinjet parked just outside on the ramp, wearing a bright red bow.