What happens when an organization is in the midst of developing a long-range strategic plan and suddenly COVID-19 enters the picture? For the Tucson Airport Authority it meant adapting and strategizing for an uncertain future and a new normal, while continuing to maintain a high standard of focus and care on safety, security and customer service.
The result is a three-year Strategic Plan that outlines the path for the TAA to navigate the challenges presented by the pandemic, and position Tucson International Airport (TUS) and Ryan Airfield (RYN) to a play vital role as economic engines for the Southern Arizona region.
“We had to pivot,” said Danette Bewley, president and CEO of the TAA. “We took stock of the situation, identified the critical steps needed to stabilize the organization and protect the operation, and set out on a path to recovery. Tucson International Airport may be the only airport in the country that has a Strategic Plan developed to respond to impacts presented by COVID-19.”
The plan is the first of its kind in TAA’s 72-year history. It was unanimously approved by the TAA Board of Directors.
“This bold, fresh approach to strategic planning departs from bureaucratic corporate speak and captures the heart of what makes this organization so special and so successful – its leaders, people and their passion for service and aviation,” said Chair Taunya Villicana.
The plan outlines big goals for the 3 year period: FY2021 – Align and Engage; FY2022 – Capitalize on Opportunities; FY2023 – Dream Big Together. Beneath each goal is a subset of deliverables designed to steer the organization toward recovery, success, and growth.
Villicana said the strategic plan prepares the organization to capitalize on economic development opportunities, while at the same time maintains its dedication for safety, security and customer service; this is essential to earn the trust and confidence of airline passengers.
Tourism is a vital element to this community and fuels the hospitality and restaurant industry, as well as local attractions; the TAA is working closely with VisitTucson to attract visitors to Tucson and to emphasize the journey through the airport is safe. Bewley said. “In addition to the leisure travel market, we want the business travel market and business sectors to regain its footing. As we distance ourselves from COVID, we want to ensure we are positioned to capitalize on commercial and industrial opportunities to enhance economic development for the region.” Before the pandemic, the annual economic impact generated from the airport system was $7.4B. “It is certainly our goal to reach this level once again, and grow from there.”
“This strategic plan has both achievable and aspirational goals, and we are excited and ready to lean into the challenges,” Villicana said. “We are facing a challenge unlike any of us has ever experienced. We need to be prepared to properly react and respond. This is an opportunity for us to make some exciting changes for the benefit of all who live and work in Southern Arizona. As an organization, I am confident we are up to the challenge.”
Provide a sustainable airport system and constantly pursue initiatives that promote and grow business opportunities.
Landing Prosperity in Southern Arizona
In addition to a new Mission and Vision, the plan has four guiding principles to shape TAA’s culture:
- We deliver results – By maintaining safety, security and customer service as our top priorities while also being accountable and working collaboratively.
- We work smart – By being good at what we do and learning from each other, being critical thinkers and able to act with urgency and offering solutions and committing to continuous improvement.
- We are curious – By embracing change, looking to self-improve, anticipating needs and possibilities and seeing opportunities others may miss.
- We play for the team – By contributing to the quality of the lives of employees and the people we service; embracing diversity, equity and inclusion; treating everyone with respect and dignity; staying connected making sure everyone understands their unique contribution to the organization’s success and encouraging leadership from everyone.
The Tucson Airport Authority (TAA) is an independent, non-profit organization operating Tucson International Airport (TUS) and general aviation reliever Ryan Airfield (RYN). TAA has sustained its operations since its origin in 1948 from airport generated revenues without the use of local taxes, and continues to invest millions of dollars each year in safety, security and facility infrastructure that drives job creation and economic activity for the benefit of Tucson and southern Arizona. The two airports currently support 35,000 jobs and house more than 100 tenants, and serve a diverse mix of both aviation and non-aviation related businesses, as well as military and government operations.