The manager of Iceland-based aviation service provider SouthAir discusses why the future is looking bright for the company post-pandemic
What was your career path to your current role?
I have been working in the aviation sector almost all of my career. I joined Airport Associates, the sister company of SouthAir during the startup process in 1997, and I have been the CEO of Airport Associates since 2002. Airport Associates is an independent ground handling service company located at Keflavik Airport, Iceland. Along with my role as a CEO of Airport Associates, I was also at the same time CEO of Express EHF, an authorized service contractor of UPS in Iceland from 2005-2019.
How have you dealt with Covid-19?
It has been very challenging to deal with the Covid-19 effect. The flight traffic through Keflavik Airport did drastically decrease like everywhere else. We had to reduce staffing and take all measures to cut down costs. Slowly the traffic has been improving. Currently, the traffic is approximately 80% of the flight traffic before the pandemic.
What are the best and worst elements of your job?
The best elements of the job are when the business is booming and operations are safe and sound. Making new contacts and working closely with our staff, customers, and other stakeholders at the airport can be very fulfilling. I believe you either love the speed and constant challenges of the aviation business, or you find out quickly that it does not suit you. The worst element is when you need to scale down the operations. It is always painful to let go of great co-workers you have worked closely with and, in some cases, for many years.
Can you describe a typical day?
There is almost nothing you can call a typical day at SouthAir, except there are no typical days! We usually start with departures in the morning, as Keflavík International Airport is the best option in Iceland for overnight aircraft because it is open 24/7. Throughout the day and the night, we take care of quick stops, overnight arrivals and departures, private jets arriving for more extended stays, and military aircraft doing air policing missions in Iceland. The list is endless, and the tasks are as varied as the people we are servicing.
How do you stand out from your competitors?
We stand out from our competitors with a high standard of personal touch and customer care — professional service at a reasonable cost.
What is the biggest trend currently affecting the business aviation sector?
Perhaps the biggest trend we are experiencing is that people and operators are eager to get their aircraft on the move, for people to travel and get the wheels rolling as they used to. Yet at the same time everyone is taking careful steps not to rush it, careful not to overcommit. Every day, we receive many questions about the possibilities of traveling to and from Iceland before the actual handling request arrives. There is an extra level of safety now involved in all operations.
What does the future hold for SouthAir?
I genuinely believe that the future of SouthAir is very bright. The new ownership of SouthAir will be very beneficial for the future operation and the business. I am utilizing the best of both sister companies, SouthAir and Airport Associates. We have successfully secured all the great staff that have proven to provide quality services at Keflavik Airport for SouthAir for many years.