MANCHESTER, NH – Transportation and logistics are often at the forefront of business location and expansion decisions – particularly for businesses that need to efficiently move people and products around the country or around the world. Having a first-class airport just a short drive away certainly makes a strong case for choosing the Granite State.
New Hampshire’s biggest airport facility, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT), certainly fits that bill. For this week’s interview, we went behind the scenes with Mark Paul Brewer, A.A.E., Airport Director for MHT. In addition to more than 30 years of airport management experience, Brewer has served as chairman and held multiple positions within the American Association of Airport Executives. He’s also served on the Transportation Security Administration’s Security Technology Deployment Office and was an industry representative on the TSA’s Airside Security Task Force.
1. MHT was recently named the “Most Reliable Station” out of 93 cities served by Southwest Airlines, a company with an already stellar customer service reputation. What’s the secret of MHT’s success, for Southwest or any of the other passenger airlines?
There are several important factors that contributed to this impressive achievement.
First, and most importantly, Southwest has terrific local leadership in New Hampshire. Station Manager Tom Labrie and his staff do a great job with on-time performance and work hard to minimize customer inconvenience due to mishandled checked baggage.
Second, our highly-skilled airport operations/maintenance personnel maintain the airport and airfield so the airlines can operate safely and efficiently.
Finally, the airport works closely in partnership with all the airport tenants to ensure that our customers have a positive experience when traveling through MHT.
2. How has MHT evolved to better serve business travelers over the last year or two?
Frequent-flying business travelers are very important to MHT. For that reason, the airport has focused a lot of energy during the past few years trying to improve services and make air travel through MHT even more convenient.
The airport continues to work with its airlines, both current and prospective, to enhance air service by adding new nonstop destinations, increasing frequency to popular destinations, and upgrading aircraft. Recently, Delta Air Lines converted its 50-seat regional jets serving Detroit to larger regional jets (76 seats) with a first-class cabin. Delta also added a fourth daily jet to New York-LaGuardia for the summer schedule.
American Airlines has increased its investment at MHT, extending the deployment of its second daily Charlotte nonstop flight in 2015.
United has added a fourth daily roundtrip to Newark and upgraded its turboprop service to regional jets.
The TSA implemented its pre-check program at MHT, which allows eligible travelers expedited screening and the ability to keep footwear on and laptops in bags.
The airport is launching a new initiative called FastPass. This customer-focused program is designed to make parking at the airport even easier, and add value to the parking experience. Participants will receive a special proximity card that allows easy in/easy out of the garage and surface parking lots. Parking charges will go directly onto a debit or credit card on file and receipts will be emailed to the customer. FastPass also allows parkers to earn points for each visit that can be redeemed for future parking at the airport.
3. One of MHT’s missions is to develop, promote, and manage the airport to stimulate economic growth. What role would you say MHT plays in attracting out-of-state businesses to expand or relocate to New Hampshire?
Airports are important economic engines for the regions they serve, creating jobs, facilitating commerce and providing access to the global marketplace. MHT contributes approximately $1 billion each year to the New Hampshire economy.
One of the first questions many prospective companies ask when exploring opportunities to relocate or expand their business in New Hampshire is about the airport. They want to make sure they can conveniently move their employees and products around the country and the world. We work closely with the Department of Resources and Economic Development and various local and regional economic development organizations to help companies better understand the benefits of investing and growing their business in New Hampshire.
4. Passenger service gets a lot of attention, but your cargo operation is thriving, too. How will Londonderry’s expanded FedEx facility and new UPS facility affect your operations?
Air cargo is a critical component of any regional transportation system, and a good indicator of the overall strength of the local economy. MHT is the third largest cargo airport in New England, processing more cargo in 2014 (160 million pounds) than Providence, RI; Portland, Maine; Portsmouth; Bangor, Maine; and Burlington, Vt. combined.
Both FedEx and UPS already have a significant presence on the cargo ramp at MHT. The completion of the FedEx Ground Distribution Facility and the UPS-Pratt Whitney Northeast Logistics Center just south of the airport in Londonderry will certainly add to the cargo handling capabilities in New Hampshire. The airport is excited to be a part of the ongoing development along Pettengill Road.
5. What other developments or milestones are on the horizon for MHT?
One of the most frequently asked questions the airport receives is, “When’s jetBlue coming to New Hampshire?” I assure you, the airport is working closely with jetBlue and other airlines to highlight all opportunities for profitable new service additions at MHT.
The airport will begin construction of a consolidated rental car facility in June. This new facility will be located in Parking Lot A and will be incorporated into the airport’s parking garage. Combining the operations of Hertz, Avis, Dollar, National/Alamo, Enterprise, and Thrifty in one convenient location creates efficiencies for the rental car companies and greatly enhances customer service for our passengers. The new rental car facility is scheduled to open in February 2016.