The First Step of a Transformative JourneyBy Jorge Gutiérrez de Velasco | Tue, 07/19/2022 - 10:00
The project to create the Strategic Plan for the Development of the Queretaro International Airport to 2035 is, by itself, a challenge, both methodologically and in terms of reconciling wills. Its usefulness will lie both in the strength of its proposal and in engaging the right team and stakeholders.
Since its foundation in 2004, the Queretaro International Airport (QIA) has fulfilled the function for which it was created: “to be an instrument of public policy for the economic development of Queretaro and the center region of Mexico.” The data supports this. Prior to the pandemic, the QIA was recognized as the airport in Mexico with the highest growth rate in passengers and cargo operations in the period from 2015 to 2019, ranking fourth in air cargo and 10th in international passengers in the national context.
However, it is necessary to dig deeper to have a vision full of what QIA's role could be in the development of Queretaro and the center region of Mexico. We have to think outside of the box and study successful cases from airports around the world, analyzing the role they played in the development of their cities and regions in order to capture the lessons learned and apply them to our situation – daily consumer population at many airports is larger than that of many mid-sized cities.
Key Success Factors
A real risk that an organization can face when a project like this is launched and, in fact, in any planning exercise, is that the resulting plan will never be executed, remaining just a paper document or, in a better scenario, that its execution is conducted in the wrong way. In both cases, the potential of the plan would not be deployed and the organization will not reap all its benefits.
There are factors that can increase the chances that an exercise like this is executed correctly:
- The project team. Inside the Queretaro International Airport, the project team that will be working on the creation of the strategic plan has to be multidisciplinary, led by the strategic planning department. The project will be composed of leaders from all areas: air operations, human resources, finance, information technology and legal, just to mention a few. The team’s sponsor is the general manager. The nature of the strategic plan is that it must include the deployment of coordinated actions from all departments at the right timing in order to achieve the proposed goals.
- Support from world-class experts. The support from world-class experts with experience in the creation of this type of strategic plan at other airports around the world provides the confidence that the necessary elements to make it feasible will be considered. The experts’ participation will also speed up the document’s construction. In the case of the QIA, experts from the Aviation Academy of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences will be providing the necessary support to the team in Mexico, turning this initiative into an international exercise led by an equally international multidisciplinary team (these experts have helped some airports ranked among the 10 most important in the world, including the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam).
- The stakeholders. Involving and taking note of the needs, opinions and perspectives of the right stakeholders is perhaps the factor that gives the strategic plan its greatest certainty. Among the most relevant stakeholders are: the government of the state of Queretaro represented by its ministries (Sustainable Development, Tourism, etc.), airlines, courier and cargo service companies, users of cargo services, such as associations of auto parts producers, passengers and the aeronautical authority in Mexico, among others. These should all participate in well-targeted and concrete consultation exercises.
- Analysis of successful models around the world. The analysis of the commercial and operational models of similar airports around the world is an essential condition to incorporate world-class practices into QIA's vision of the future. Talking with the leaders of these airports will provide a clear idea of the opportunities that exist and are already a reality in other parts of the world, which include technological trends, sustainability, operational and commercial practices as well as the passenger experience, just to mention the most relevant.
- Industry studies. The last key factor to consider in the process of creating the strategic plan is, without a doubt, the analysis of industry studies of air operations in the region and the world. From there, trends in air operations, fleet growth forecasts, needs for new routes and business opportunities, among others, will be incorporated. In the case of Queretaro, it is important to analyze the opportunities and threats that exist due to the cancellation of the construction of the Texcoco Airport and the creation of the new Felipe Angeles International Airport in the context of the national airport system.
The Most Important Deliverable
The business case resulting from creating a matrix of needs, opportunities, threats, trends and best practices, which will be generated as a result of interviews with stakeholders, visits to similar leading airports around the world as well as the study of reports of the aeronautical industry will undoubtedly be the most important deliverable of this futuristic planning exercise.
This business case answers a key question for the strategic plan: which of all the opportunities analyzed for the future are the best for the economic development of Queretaro and the region, in addition to being achievable and feasible? The strategy embodied in the plan will support the business case and how to implement actions to make it a reality.
The plan will contain the following core elements:
- The current situation of the Queretaro International Airport and the Vision to 2035 The goal is to place ourselves in 2022, taking a realistic X-ray of the situation at AIQ, which will be contrasted with the Vision to 2035. The vision is a vivid description of the desired situation by 2035, detailing its position on a national scale, its function and contribution to the development of the state and regional economy, as well as the structure and solidity of its internal organization, including the knowledge and skills that its staff must acquire to support both the execution of the plan and the deployment and operation of strategic projects.
- Strategic objectives. The Vision to 2035 must be divided into strategic objectives, which will outline the development areas in which the plan will be divided; for example: commercial, air operations, organizational and infrastructure.
- Strategies. Strategies are proposed, which are a series of actions to achieve a specific objective or objectives. They are also necessary steps on the way to achieving a goal. During the creation of strategies, the creative process reaches its greatest expression.
- Strategic projects. Once all the strategies have been defined, they will be ordered and grouped by application areas (information technology, organizational development, air operations, passenger experience, etc.), becoming the basis for the creation of strategic projects, which are the main instruments to eliminate the gap between the current situation in 2022 and the vision for 2035. Projects are the main tool to move the entire organization to the future vision.
- Core values. These are the fundamental and enduring beliefs of an organization; these values define the enduring character of the organization and are, at the same time, the most significant contribution of its leaders. Core values are rules of execution for all the activities around the plan and the organization’s life.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Finally, the key performance indicators will be determined, which will be the tools to demonstrate that the objectives proposed by the strategic plan have been achieved, being convincing evidence of the impact of making the vision a reality to 2035.
The Importance of Project Management
Although the creation of the Strategic Plan for the Development of the Queretaro International Airport is a high-impact project in itself, it has an equally high-impact objective: to be a tool for the economic development of Queretaro and the region. Once the strategic document has been completed, a project office must be established to lead the deployment of the plan and whose knowledge, skills and experience of its members will be a sine qua non condition for its benefits to become a reality.
The creation of the Strategic Plan for the Development of the Queretaro International Airport is the guiding document that will collect the needs of the productive sectors, stakeholders and shareholders. Likewise, the plan will describe the opportunities that exist in its future and will support the business case that represents the greatest gains for the economic development of the state of Queretaro and the central region of Mexico.