Interview to Mr. Gonzalo Velasco, co-author of the book Airport Business Planning published by ITAérea Editorial

Mr. Gonzalo Velasco is Director of Infrastructure and Asset Advisory at Steer and a teacher at ITAérea. He has 20 years of experience in the airport business. He previously held leadership positions at Ferrovial, including business planning, mergers & acquisitions, portfolio management, innovation, and sustainability. Mr. Velasco has also been a board member at several airports and has chaired committees at airports and at Airport Council International (ACI).

He has undertaken a number of roles promoting innovation and sustainability in the industry including the creation of the Ferrovial Vertiports business unit and the development of strategic sustainability plans for airports. He is the co-author of the book Airport Business Planning published by ITAérea Editorial.

We had the opportunity to learn from Mr. Velasco his key insights on Airport Business Planning, which we share with you all as follows:


How does the business planning team coordinate with the different departments and actors involved in the airport planning process?

The business planning function is fundamental to delivering the strategy of the company.  Business planning integrates the main technical, operational and financial aspects of the airport business and presents them as a comprehensive plan.  Once the business plan is approved, all the areas of the business need to implement the actions in accordance with it.

The development of an airport business plan goes beyond the annual budgeting process by capturing the long-term strategic initiatives and translating these into tangible plans and financial forecasts.  The process is iterative and needs to gather the input of all the areas of the business and airport stakeholders.


What are the main challenges that airport business planners face these days?

Uncertainty.  Business planners need to have a holistic view of the potential impact of internal and external influencing factors in the airport business.  These factors could have certain commonalities among airports, but the degree of impact and how a specific airport can manage (or take advantage of) it, is very unique to each asset.

The airport business is vey dynamic and, at the same time, vey resilient if there is a proper strategy and governance in place.  Financial crises, digitalization, pandemics, sustainability, globalization, multi-modal transport integration, automation, emerging economies, labour shortage, new aircraft technologies, airline competition, etc. are all factors that need to be considered nowadays.


How is sustainability and environmental protection taken into account when planning the business activity of an airport?

For any airport that wants to be a responsible business, Sustainability (namely Environmental, Social and Governance) needs to be at the forefront of its strategy.  Therefore, the business plan needs to capture the overarching strategy and also the specific plans that need to be implemented in order to achieve the objectives defined in each ESG area.  ESG is not only about operational expenditure and capital expenditure, it also entails revenue opportunities, such as the on-site generation of renewable energy or the provision of electric infrastructure for vehicles and equipment.


What are the key guidelines to accommodate the provision of services and the enhanced customer experience into the existing infrastructure of an airport?

The foundations of a good customer experience should be included in the initial design of the infrastructure.  It is at this stage that the airport operator can best provide the optimal space, passenger flows, ambience, technology, wayfinding, entertainment, art, retail, F&B, etc. in accordance with the business plan.

For an operational environment where there is no business case to develop an expansion of the facilities, automation and digitalization can assist in providing a better passenger experience.


What is your opinion about the Master’s degrees delivered by ITAérea on Sustainable Air Transport Management and Business Administration in Aviation Management delivered by ITAérea?

IT Aerea offers in-depth contents in these masters, covering both the theory and real-life case studies.  This teaching method and the fact that the teachers are professionals active in the industry, provide a unique learning experience.  The United Nations and Airport Council International have validated the high quality of the school.

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Mr. Gonzalo Velasco is Director of Infrastructure and Asset Advisory at Steer and a teacher at ITAérea. He has 20 years of experience in the airport business. He previously held leadership positions at Ferrovial, including...


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