ANDREW O'BRIAN

Ecuador 2020 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

With Ecuador's increasing tourism numbers, Quiport and its upcoming expansion plan for the Quito Airport will play a high-flying role in getting more tourists through Ecuador's front door.

Andrew O'Brian
BIOGRAPHY

Andrew O'Brian is an internationally experienced airport leader who is currently the CEO of Corporación Quiport S.A. He started his tenure as vice president & COO in 2012. Formerly, he was CEO of AERODOM in the Dominican and director of operations for Vancouver Airport Services. O'Brian has worked on several aviation and airport projects throughout the Americas. He is councilor for the ACI World Governing Board and a board member of the International Association of Airport Executives. He holds an MBA with a specialization in aviation from the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University in Montreal, a diploma in international management from Capilano University, and a bachelor's in political science from the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

How has Quiport managed to increase the number of airlines that operate at the airport to 19?

Quiport's strategy to develop routes revolves around three main axes: networking at Routes events, which gathers airlines and airports to search for new connectivity options, visiting headquarters of different airlines, and offering incentives for airlines that seek to establish new routes and increase capacity. Under this strategy, it is essential to work alongside the central government through the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, as well as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. In addition, we work with the municipality of Quito through the Public Company for Airport Services (EPMSA).

How will the airport capacity be improved after the current expansion plans?

The Quito Airport is the main gate of entry into Ecuador; thus, it is the responsibility of Quiport to maintain it and manage an increasing number of passengers and airlines. New airlines and routes represent an opportunity to steadily increase passenger traffic. This has increased the necessity to expand the terminal to 16,000sqm, as well as all the areas for checking, immigration, customs, and boarding gates. We are investing USD60 million using our own resources. We are not just talking about space, but also new design concepts that have been created to establish the airport's identity and offer high-quality services to passengers. Our main aim is to better the passenger experience, which we aim to do through the expansion.

What improvements have you implemented to ensure the airport keeps operating during adverse climate conditions?

The operational and technical sides of an airport like Quiport are extremely important. We operate an airport that it is located about 2,400m above sea level, which requires working under certain climate conditions. Thanks to a team with years of civil aviation experience, Quiport has achieved a Category 2 certification for instrumental landing. This means we can keep the airport operational almost all the time, even when there is limited visibility. This certification works in the favor of airlines and passengers because it reduces the number of delays and cancellations.

Tourism is becoming one of the most important business opportunities in Ecuador. What strategy are you following to boost it?

The ongoing work at the airport cannot be separated from Ecuador's tourism strategy. The markets identified under the government's tourism strategy are our priority because they represent great potential. In that regard, we are in permanent touch with the Ministry of Tourism and Quito Tourism, which promotes tourism in the city. We work with them to establish joint strategies as well as mechanisms to carry out joint negotiations with airlines. The benefits of such cooperation are tangible; working with the Ministry and Quito Tourism, we can show Ecuador's tourism wonders, the opportunities offered in Quito, and Quiport's advantages.

What are your goals and priorities for 2020?

Managing an airport is a complex activity; thus, we are forced to maintain several priorities. One of them is to complete the expansion project by December 2020. We also have the challenge of increasing the number of routes and flights. Another priority is to improve the experience of the passengers. Today, we are at the forefront in terms of services such as free Wi-Fi, play areas for children, breastfeeding rooms, and pet areas, among others. The challenge is to find opportunities to improve every passenger's experience. This focus has helped us to win awards at Skytrax, World Travel Awards, and Air Cargo Excellence. We have also become the president of the Council of International Airports in Latin America and the Caribbean. Although we have had a lot of success during the last seven years of operations, we still have a lot to do.