Observations from Airways' Chief Operating Officer (NATs ex-Operations Director) after eight weeks in the job.
Airways new COO, Pauline Lamb, says New Zealand’s unique and diverse airspace, and the experience and competence of Airways people, means that it might just have the “magic ingredients” to make its mark on the rest of the world.
“I think we have all the components you need to make New Zealand the global showcase for air transport,” says Lamb. “Airways will become the ANSP others see as delivering future concepts in partnership with our airlines, airports and regulator, while others continue to talk about it.”
Commenting on her first few weeks in the job, Lamb says the pace has been unrelenting and thoroughly enjoyable.
“I’m struck by the passion, great spirit and purpose Airways people display and the warm welcome I’ve been given. What I see, hear and feel is that anything is possible - it’s just up to us to create it.”
“Already New Zealand has airlines starting to focus on arriving on time rather than departing on time. Airways’ AMAN and CAM are saving airlines millions of dollars in fuel, reducing CO2 emissions and making delays insignificant, if compared with European measures.
“We have content airline customers, because their customer, the traveller, knows he/she will arrive on time. Ten minute connection times are possible and you can turn up at the airport fifteen minutes before scheduled departure and have time to spare.
“Airways solution development capability is delivering results – PBN in Queenstown is seriously impressive and a great example of an ANSP, airline, regulator and an airport working together to get clear what they need and deliver a significant capacity improvement.”
Other innovations include the CANSO Flightyield billing system, where differential charging is possible, it’s flexible, adaptable, accurate and has been working effectively in NZ for some time. It’s also low in administrative overhead.
“To be honest, I’ve been impressed by what we have in New Zealand and I’m the first to say that we have a big job ahead to turn all the ‘bits’ of the picture into a masterpiece, but I’m confident that it’s possible,” says Lamb.
Before joining Airways, Lamb built a long and successful career at NATS in the UK, starting as a controller in 1983 and subsequently gaining extensive management experience in the Enroute, Terminal and Airport air traffic control environments.
Her most recent role at NATS was Operations Director, delivering air traffic control services across Central and Northern England, Scotland and the North Atlantic. Pauline had responsibility for safety across NATS operations and strategic planning to ensure the correct investments and relationships were made to meet the needs of future air traffic management in the UK and over the North Atlantic.
Lamb has led a number of successful major change programmes at NATS, including introducing new computerised systems in safety-critical environments, and spearheading a step-change in improving safety culture at Glasgow Airport during her role as General Manager Glasgow Airport.
Lamb says that NATS is different to Airways as it’s considerably bigger with a huge amount of well-established processes. A large portion of its revenue comes from its regulated business - like Airways. Unlike Airways, NATS has to navigate through European and UK regulation and respond to European targets, as well as its diverse customer base.
“I’m looking forward to working with our Australian neighbours and creating capability in Airways to support our global aspirations. Airways has an involved and supportive Board, a driven and charismatic CEO who wants to make a difference and a workforce that I see is up for the challenge. We also have greater freedom here to create, develop and promote leading methodology for the ATM world.”
On moving to Christchurch, a city still rebuilding from the devastating earthquakes two years ago, Lamb agrees it was a big decision.
“I lived in Ayr (Scotland) and spent time in Prestwick, London, Southampton, Brussels and Dublin with work and a lot of time with family and friends at home. If you’d asked me six months ago if I would have moved to New Zealand I’d have said you were barking mad. I first got an email from a headhunter and I deleted it, but then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. After two weeks I dug the email out and responded.
Something about Airways and New Zealand felt right. I wanted to experience a new organisation, a new culture and a new environment and needed a fresh challenge. People are really welcoming, it is more relaxed (outside work), and it certainly rains less than the west coast of Scotland.
“Watch this space,” says Lamb to other ANSPs. “I think you’ll find there’s a lot to be learnt from Airways New Zealand – I certainly have in my first few weeks.”