Victoria International Airport is the 10th busiest airport in Canada, with over 1.5 million passengers per year. The Victoria Airport Authority (VAA) is a not-for-profit authority that manages the safe and secure operations of the Victoria International Airport on behalf of the surrounding communities.
VAA President and CEO, Geoff Dickson, has reason to be proud of the airport. In 2012, the VAA placed first in North America for quality of service among airports with fewer than two million passengers per year. The award was given by the Airports Council International, the global trade representative of the world’s airports. A total of 275 airports around the world took part in the survey. Customer satisfaction was measured using more than 30 criteria, including ambiance, efficiency, staff courtesy and security screening processes.
The 25 full-time and 19 back-up Commissionaires at VAA played a significant role in winning the award. Dickson said, “Receiving the award was an example of an entire community pulling together – staff, airlines and security teams to name a few. Commissionaires played a huge part in this.”
Dickson expects the number of passengers per year at the airport to increase to two million by 2020. To accommodate this anticipated increase, Victoria International Airport will be remodelling elements of its terminal building over 2013 and 2014 to make every part of a visitor’s interaction with them easy and enjoyable. This includes an expansion to the pre-board security area where many Commissionaires help guide and direct travelers.
Commissionaires will be there in 2020 as they have been since 1973, providing site security and other services, including overseeing compliance with Transport Canada policies and regulations to ensure aviation security regulations are properly managed; handling motor vehicle accidents and coordinating with police; and being front line ambassadors for the public at the airport.
“Our contract with Commissionaires came up for renewal in 2013,” said Dickson. “We had a good look at what we want from them – level of service, professionalism, conduct etc. We looked at the marketplace and we’re very comfortable with the quality of service we receive from Commissionaires.”
The decision was made to extend the contract. “Commissionaires are exactly what we are looking for,” said Dickson. “They take their job seriously and they understand what we are all about – safety, security and customer service. They provide excellent customer service!”
In addition to Commissionaires playing an important role in the quality service award from Airports Council International, in many cases, they are the front line and “face” of the airport to clients. Comments from customers are extremely positive. Dickson said, “I get consistent feedback from the community about our Commissionaires – from customers travelling, business leaders and more – all telling me that they feel a certain warmth and friendliness at the airport. Much of it starts with the professional security team we have in place.” As Victoria International Airport grows, the relationship with Commissionaires will grow too. “I see us growing together as part of a team. We’re so delighted with the work Commissionaires are doing.”
Dickson has a letter from a local university professor, thanking VAA Commissionaires for work above and beyond. Dickson said, “A professor arrived back home here with his wife and child only to find out his car lights were on and his car battery was dead. A Commissionaire figured out how to release the automatic transmission to back the car out of its parking space, located a jumper cable from a shuttle desk, started the car, and sent them happily on their way.” “That’s a fantastic story,” said Dickson. “It speaks volumes about the Commissionaires we have here. The ROI is priceless.”