Shared airport experiences around Aus/NZ

With more flights already operating in NZ and Australia starting conversation about getting back to 50% of the domestic pre-COVID network from July (as long as the borders open!!), many airports are focussing now on changes to their commercial space. In particular, re-opening cafes and F&B options.

This week I spoke to multiple airport folks and café operators who are open about their experience during COVID. Overall, there were a few consistent themes:

  • Customer response has been positive and when asked ‘should we open’ the answer is yes!
  • Not only is it positive for staff morale and customer experience, but it can still be profitable on a limited menu and with reduced operational costs.
  • Operating on a reduced menu is key with a focus on grab n go options packaged up with drinks.
  • People’s attitudes are changing. And where at the beginning of COVID 19 they were fearful of purchasing food for fear of contamination, now they are more relaxed and keener to buy again.

Ballina Byron Airport Experience – Beach Bar and Grill

Talking with the lovely Nerida Baker (owner and operator) of the Beach Bar and Grill at Ballina Byron Airport, she is super happy to be back in business after experiencing a period of shut down over early April.

“We have had to adapt with more of a grab and go offering and ensuring only limited fresh ingredients compared to those with a longer shelf life as we currently only have 2 Jetstar flights a week”, said Nerida.

“Its just about thinking differently and instead of bulk orders from supplies, we have one employee now pick up the bare essentials from the supermarket on the way to the café that day. This keeps a core offering of fresh products without food waste and keeps costs down”.

One of the best kickers for promoting passenger purchases at the airport café is the regular announcements by airline check in staff that there is no food on board the flight due to COVID 19. “Alerting passengers to buy before they fly has certainly helped” said Nerida.

Another benefit of being open for business is ‘warming up’ staff before we kick off again with an expanded schedule. “Its great for staff morale and keeping their skill sets up before we get busy again”.

“We are also finding on airport staff coming to the café to show their support, it gives hope its working for us”.

Contact me for more info: carlywieland@limeintel.com