New GM looking to the skies

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October 21, 2014 9:05 AM

Fred Ackerman, the new general manager at the Lloydminster Municipal Airport, hopes that, through marketing, residents of the region will look to the skies for travel in the future. - Christopher W. Brown Photo

For some people, your blood runs with your desired passion.

For Fred Ackerman, the new general manager of the Lloyd- minster Municipal Airport, his passion is flight and aeronautics.

Ackerman has been hired by the City of Lloydminster to take the municipal airport and grow it into a destination and a viable option for residents of the Border City.

“On a personal note, what this means to me is putting a cap on something that I have set myself up for my whole life,” Ackerman said of the announcement last week.

“With an aviation background and a degree in business, I get to apply what I know to the Lloyd- minster Municipal Airport.”

Being just a few months into the job, he has already set out on some ambitious goals to help move the airport forward.

“I hope that I can bring to the table my experiences in the aviation industry, from monitoring transit aircraft itself to the marketing of the aviation industry,” he said.

Looking at the future, Ackerman said believes that to grow, the municipal airport has to market itself better in the city and abroad.

“I would say that it would be getting the region use to air travel,” he said. “Traditionally, I don’t believe that there has been a huge lean on airports.

“Most people are more adept to drive to Edmonton, whereas if we can offer competitive services out of the airport, and get people used to using the airport as a departure point (the airport would be able to grow),” said Ackerman.

Getting people on to the idea of air travel out of Lloydminster won’t be an easy task, he said.

“I think that we, as an airport, have to make people aware the value of time through marketing and I believe our biggest advertising and promotion will be utilizing users itself,” he said.

Ackerman said that if people have a good experience with the airport, “Right from the moment they walk through the door. .. the cheapest advertising is through word of mouth.” He went on to say that people who have good experiences at airports, like Lloydminster, are more likely to tell others about their experiences.

“If people clue in that it makes more sense to fly out of Lloy- dminster to an international airport like Calgary to depart for a vacation spot,” Ackerman said, adding that to have the airport within the city can be somewhat less expensive as well. “Driving to the international airport, parking your vehicle, getting a hotel room (can become expensive.

“I think that (the people of Lloydminster) haven’t steered their thinking that way yet.”

The general manager position was recently created after this year’s strategic plan called for the creation of the position.

Sharon Herbus, director of strategy with the City of Lloydminster, said that the airport was identified as a priority by council and the hiring of Ackerman would help move the airport forward.

“It’s important to our economy today and as we grow as a city,” she said.

“It has been a one-man operation for a long time, and we are looking at the future expansion of the city, and the growth of the city.”

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