Additional international facilities, an aviation and aerospace technical training center, 5G technology, and reduction of natural resource consumption are among the myriad of factors driving Houston Airports (HAS) to reach for the stars.
In its pursuit of sustained excellence, HAS recently released its 2020-2024 Strategic Plan, which navigates the vision to becoming “a 5-star global air service gateway where the magic of flight is celebrated.”
Mario Diaz, Director of Houston Airports, said, “We built our five-year Strategic Plan by evaluating our successes, lessons learned, current environment and future trends that may affect the way we operate and grow.”
“Our organizational philosophy is built on the foundation of mastering safety, capacity and efficiency to provide exceptional and unmatched service for our millions of passengers each year.”
Although growth has been slowed this year by the worldwide effects of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, HAS is proactively preparing for the robust return of air travel. in 2019, nearly 60 million passengers arrived, connected, or departed from HAS. Diaz emphasized that simply meeting passengers’ expectations is not a sustainable strategy – the passenger experience must be enhanced, and exceeding the expectations of every passenger is the goal.
Lindsay Hook, Assistant Director of Corporate Strategy & Performance (CS&P), is fully confident that the strategic plan is on point.
“I am profoundly impressed by the leadership’s commitment to our vision,” she said, “and I have no doubt we’ll achieve 5-star success.”
The 5-star rating by Skytrax, the leading airports ratings organization, is a global benchmark of excellence and the ultimate quality recognition for an airport system.
Hook, who joined HAS’s Finance Department in December 2019, said that she has been particularly impressed with HAS’s commitment to stewardship and responsible management as a public agency; commitment to service with regard to employees, customers, and stakeholders; and commitment to sustainability, essential in today’s world. Each of these is reflected in the Strategic Plan.
“It is truly inspiring to me,” Hook said. “I am encouraged to see the Director and the Airport System take a strong, proactive approach to being responsible in the economic, social, and environmental arenas and subsequently all regions in between.”
The Strategic Plan was borne from a transparent situation assessment, an annual exercise undertaken by HAS. The assessment examined, evaluated and developed strategies to manage changing elements within the business environment, both internal and external to HAS. Members of the HAS senior leadership team worked with subject matter experts from functional, financial, and supporting divisions in order to develop a set of priorities that leverage strengths and opportunities “to create measurable results,” according to Hook.
The overview of those priorities includes the following:
· make our passengers happy
· act responsibly to achieve social, environmental, and economic sustainability
· build platforms for future success
· invest in our partnerships and employees
Hook said that associated objectives to each of these four pillars have been created to hold HAS accountable in measurable ways as it reaches for fulfillment of the 5-star vision.
“There are so many exciting plans ongoing and on the horizon,” Hook said. “Under the sustainability pillar, HAS is creating an Aviation and Aerospace Technical Training Center in conjunction with Texas Southern, the University of Houston, San Jacinto College, Texas A&M, and Rice University. That has the potential to be a real game-changer!”
“With regard to building platforms for future success, the ITRP (AH Terminal Redevelopment Program) will play a prominent role in the ultimate vision and mission of HAS coming to fruition,” Hook said. “Not only is ITRP the largest investment we’ve ever made, but it is strategically critical.”
“We’re achieving opening-day fresh through ITRP and through other development programs we’re have. We’re also upgrading IT to help support the new technology wave that’s not only required but expected by our customers to enhance their experience and to ensure we’re at the cutting edge of safety and security.”
HAS serves the nation’s fourth-largest city with a dynamic economy and a diverse population base. Collectively, the three airports (IAH, HOU, and Ellington Airport) form one of North America’s largest public airport systems and is the premier gateway to Latin America.
What is the biggest challenge to the success of the Strategic Plan?
“The biggest challenge,” Hook said, “is maintaining the alignment we have; we all must go in the same direction and reach for the stars together. We will be successful as we continue to pull in the same direction – many hands make lighter work.”
“With the collective knowledge of our team,” Diaz said, in formulating the Strategic Plan, “we unearthed game-changing opportunities that can transform our airports and energize our vision…”
IAH and HOU are both currently 4-star rated airports, with Houston the only city in the Western Hemisphere with two 4-star rated airports. IAH also recently received the highest ranking among U.S. airports in the World’s Top 100 Airports category and placed as second-best airport in North America.
View the strategic plan here