Marketing Communication Plan for Newcastle International Airport2007IntroductionNewcastle International Airport (NIA), in North-east England, is the 9th largest international airport in the United Kingdom. The airport handles over 5 million passengers a year traveling to 85 countries. It is the fastest growing airport in the country, with a number of low-cost airlines touching it. It has entered into deals with EasyJet for low cost routes and Copenhagen Airport for investments in capacity addition (CPH). The airport has also rationalized its operations by reducing the headcount, outsourcing non-core functions, increasing manager involvement and accountability.
The airport has undertaken a $13mn terminal expansion plan, creating 32,292 space for the departure lounge (Mansfield, 2006). It is predicted that passenger traffic will increase to 9.5 million passengers per annum by 2016 (Pricewaterhouse Coopers, 2004). Marketing communication strategy and objectivesTill 2002, the airport did not focus on the low cost market and was passive towards route and passenger growth, as a result of which passengers were choosing other airports. The brand image had tired out even when passenger volume was growing marginally. In addition to the particular shortcomings of the airport, the travel industry was in the doldrums after September 11, 2001, tour operators were cutting back and there was a distinctive shift towards the low cost market.
NIA, in 2002, catered mostly to scheduled (47%) and chartered (47%) flights and low cost carriers contributed to only 6% of the passenger traffic. While the charter flights remained strong, scheduled flights were hit by 9/11 (Parkin, 2004). However, NIA was seen to have a good potential since, being the major airport in the North East, had a significant catchment area.
The airport has a good infrastructure, with GBP 100 million already invested since 1990 on capacity expansion, and already catered to a critical mass of passengers. The aeronautical charges are not regulated and there are few environmental limitations to growth of the airport. NIA identified select low cost carriers. It entered into a deal with Easyjet, beating 6 other competing airports in the UK. There are 17 low cost routes from NIA with 6 EasyJet and other aircrafts. BA, KLM and Air France has also been motivated to fly important routes to London, Amsterdam and Paris from NIA.
Costs have also been reduced by lower paper tasks, reduction of vehicle fleet and supervisory costs. The airport has improved efficiency through greater accountability and management involvement in day-to-day operations (Parkin, 2004). NIA is also in the process of revising its master plan in order to develop the property (CPH). As a result of the new strategy, the flight mix of NIA changed to scheduled (31%), chartered (37%) and low cost (32%) in 2004. Besides the balanced mix, the airport also achieved connection to all key markets and passenger flow of over 5 million per year (Parkin, 2004).
For NIA, we propose a communication strategy that would be a mix of pull that is directing the marketing strategy to the final consumers, and push, that is through distribution channels. A combination of pull communication, like online and mobile phone messages and pull strategies through tour operators would be used to keep the customers proactively informed about new routes, allow the company to reach out in case of emergencies as well as to enhance the brand (Berluchhi).
The main target for the promotion communication would be the low cost travelers who have rising disposable incomes, to international destinations since this is the main focus of growth of the company. The objectives of the communication strategy would be to increase the attraction of the airport vis-à-vis other airports and increase passenger traffic. The positioning of the airport would be as an efficient and comfortable airport for the international airport, with minimum paperwork, short passenger queue, spacious departure lounge, attractive retail outlets.