Air Elite Blog

Our Air Elite members are adapting to the changes in tech stops. Read below to learn how Great Circle Flight Services (PANC) has put an emphasis on expert care long before the aircraft arrival and what changes they have implemented to ensure a smoother operational process.

The Changing Landscape of the International Tech Stop FBO 

Laura Charon
General Manager
Great Circle Flight Services – PANC

Observation from a front line FBO

Earlier this year, like so many of our aviation friends and colleagues, we found ourselves in uncharted waters, expeditiously working to redefine how to safely welcome, care, and serve our general aviation clients passing through our FBO. Poised midway on the Great Circle Route between the U.S. and Asia, we have a long history of expertly serving the international tech stop traveling on the same trade route.

Leaning into our company and Air Elite mission to care for each other and our customers, we diligently worked to remain an expert resource to operators continuing to traverse the Great Circle Route through the first half of 2020. We are privileged to share our observations on the changing FBO service landscape as we have continued to serve international tech stop clients through the health crisis.

Expert care needed long before aircraft arrival

We recognize flying through the current landscape is not easy. We have concentrated our crisis education efforts to share impactful information with operators while still in the trip planning phase. By providing information proactively, we aim to give dispatchers and operators time to prepare the crew for a smoother U.S. entry and exit process while providing a better understanding of what to expect of local health mandates for crew rest periods in Alaska.

Our teams are looking for specific trip details through the many early trip-related conversations, asking questions, sharing information, and, more importantly, for operators, anticipating and identifying any red flags that may indicate a potential delay when on the ground. Focusing on the details before arrival provides time for operators to make necessary arrangements or adapt plans. This customer care level became even more important as the health crisis hit and navigating the new landscape of restrictions tested even the most experienced of international business and charter operators.

Our concierge services have acclimated to better serve our customers traveling internationally through the changing landscape. We have seen an increased pressure to meet slot times, and most aircraft departing the U.S. are topping off to tanker into international destinations.

In response to operator requests and to facilitate smoother entry to international airports, our FBOs now include:

  • transportation of crew to COVID PRC testing sites
  • arranging for aircraft disinfecting services
  • facilitating CBP stamped General Declaration forms for aircraft leaving the U.S.

Becoming an oasis

Perhaps even more critical than the adaptation of our technical support has been our mission to become an oasis. Adding masks and inserting distance in our relationship industry has driven home the critical need to go above and beyond to care, support, and become a haven in the chaos. Instead of pushing customers away out of fear, we have instead chosen to double-down on our welcome. Our teams are choosing to be an oasis where operators feel cared for and supported rather than perpetuating the anxiety of travel.

From our smiles “through the masks” to the happy lobby music and themed party decorations, our mission to provide excellent service is not complete until we see a little toe-tapping, tension leaving the shoulders and a smile creeping into the eyes of our customers. We have even been known for a few impromptu sing-alongs, but for the dignity of our crew, we are hoping none of that was caught on video!

From the start of this crisis, our focus has remained the same: to be an expert resource for operators by providing caring teams, subject expertise, attention to details, the anticipation of needs, and expert coordination. We are honored to be able to continue providing comfort to our general aviation community!

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