While a tumultuous economy is shaking many traditional businesses, commercial airlines are no exception. But major airlines and airports are making adjustments to win back frustrated executive travelers.

“Business travelers in general are key airline customers, so the airlines cater to them as best they can,” says Ted Bushelman, senior director of communications for the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. “We’re definitely seeing airlines adding as many perks as possible.”
Bushelman says commercial airlines and airports understand the importance of continuing to make themselves attractive to the all-important business travelers. He cites new security screening technology and the registered traveler program as specific attempts to improve security and service since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
“A great example at CVG is the Terminal 3 security addition, which opens next year,” Bushelman says of the addition that will up the screening-station capacity at the airport from the current nine stations to 20.
That should ease the long lines most travelers have come to expect on peak days.
"The added lanes will allow us to handle passenger growth and new federal regulations, without straining the system,” Bushelman says, noting that the addition will proceed no matter what happens with the Delta hub. “We can eventually save money by moving all airlines into one terminal.”
Clearly, though, much remains to be done.
The airport has gone from a peak of 670 daily departures in 2005 to about 380 today. However, CVG still provides service to more than 90 cities, double that of the five surrounding airports combined. And, it offers the best international access compared to any city in the Midwest region with the exception of Detroit and Chicago, Bushelman says.
Bankruptcies and merger talks, coupled with high fuel costs, have caused airlines to cut capacity at airports across the country. CVG is no different, but is faring better than some and worse than others.
“It’s not a stretch to say that the airline industry today is facing some of its toughest challenges ever,” he says. “This is something we think about and work on every day. We keep our finger on the pulse of the industry — monitoring and anticipating airline changes; planning and preparing.”

But CVG isn’t simply reacting to a sluggish economy. The airport’s focus on improving service started well before the industry downturn. Even at the airport’s peak, its board and staff were laying the foundation for CVG’s future, Bushelman notes. And they believe it can still be bright: “We have a best-in-class facility and our policies ensure the lowest possible costs to airlines, so that CVG remains a good place to do business.”