Spring 2023

Grupo EULEN in the US looks to the skies

Grupo EULEN in the US looks to the skies

The aviation division of Grupo EULEN in the US, part of the Madrid, Spain-headquartered Grupo EULEN, offers a full range of ground handling and passenger support services at a number of airports down the US East Coast and in Jamaica. Rodrigo Yepez, regional CEO, North and Central America, for Grupo EULEN tells Airside about the company’s rapid trajectory of growth in his area

Yepez’s area of responsibility includes the Central America and Caribbean area as well as North America, though its main aviation interests are based in the US. Its Aviation Services division provides a wide range of services both above and below the wing, including ramp handling, passenger handling, cargo handling, load control, janitorial services and cabin cleaning, and security training.

Grupo EULEN is active at airports down the US East Coast including New York JFK, New Jersey Newark, Ronald Reagan Washington National, Tampa, Orlando as well as being prominent at its biggest hub and headquarters, Miami International Airport (MIA). In addition to a presence at some smaller Florida gateways, it also handles in Jamaica at Kingston and Montego Bay airports.

Grupo EULEN has been on a rollercoaster ride over the last few years as the impact of the Covid pandemic was felt, but things are now very much on the up, Yepez informs. The last 12 months or so have been particularly eventful, as passenger numbers have recovered and the aviation industry generally in North America has got back on its feet. And Grupo EULEN in the US has reacted quickly and decisively to change, he says.

In fact, 2022 was – despite the many challenges – one of growth for EULEN in North and Central America. It made a major acquisition in the region when it purchased a large janitorial services company and, in terms of its overall handling and other aviation services dedicated to aviation across the region, it now employs more staff – over 3,000 – than it did pre-pandemic.

The nature of the service provided has not fundamentally altered in nature, but there have been subtle changes in customer expectations, says Yepez. For example, while the obvious and necessary emphasis on taking all necessary precautions to staunch the spread of Covid-19 has lessened, expectations of an even higher level of customer service on the part of flying passengers now seems to be the norm, he believes.

The airlines on which they fly – the direct customers of ground service providers such as EULEN, including major North American carriers such as American, Delta and JetBlue – are also “extremely mindful” of the need for high levels of customer service, Yepez observes, something that EULEN is happy to provide in the form of its “boutique” quality standards.

“We are very much focused on giving our passengers a smooth and streamlined experience,” he adds.

Another focus of Yepez and his team, and another example perhaps of the way that expectations regarding ground service provision have changed, relates to sustainability. “Minimising our environmental footprint is part of our overall promise to customers and absolutely vital to us,” he remarks.

As part of the effort to minimise its carbon emissions, Grupo EULEN has invested and continues to invest in electric GSE, Yepez confirms, in order to ensure “We have a good proportion of electric GSE.

“And all of our GSE acquisition programmes of the last 18 months have borne that in mind,” he says, noting that “We have purchased 54 pieces of GSE in the last 18 months, including belt loaders, tugs, trucks, dollies and towbars, among others.

“Of these, the majority of items are non-motorised equipment, or motorised ones with low gasoline consumption, which comply with the highest environmental standards.

“We are partnering with GSE suppliers to be as carbon neutral as possible and our airline partners have been very encouraging of us in this, and the focus on sustainability is now part of our DNA.”

Staff

Another positive of the past six or so months that Yepez points to is the easing that there has been in the US labour market, lessening problems that EULEN and other aviation service providers had felt in terms of recruiting new staff as the aviation industry recovered.

The labour market in the aviation business improved as the general economic situation and wider labour market picked up in the US over recent months. Hiring has become much easier, while retention was never a great problem for EULEN, he advises – although “Keeping good people is key,” Yepez notes, observing that: “This is a people business and our people are fundamental to the positive experience we offer our customers.”

Finally: “We have invested in beefing up our recruitment team, bringing on board specialists in the aviation industry,” and that has also helped, he says.

As to the future, Yepez is confident that EULEN will expand its presence further across the region for which he is responsible. He is particularly keen to increase EULEN’s geographical footprint beyond its primary area of operations along the East Coast into the mid-West – to gateways such as Chicago O’Hare or Minneapolis, perhaps.

This might be achieved through expanding its service provision for existing customer airlines or by signing up entirely new carriers. Either way, Yepez is targeting 15-20% growth in business over the course of 2023.

EULEN is ready to meet the needs of what is now a growing aviation industry in North America in particular, he says. The Covid recovery phase is coming to an end and he sees instead the start of a new phase of growth in the sector above and beyond what it was pre-pandemic. Yepez believes that Grupo EULEN has “jump-started its team and its business” to serve the needs of the recovery and is exceptionally well placed to meet the requirements of this coming growth phase.

“We are ready to grow together with our partner airlines,” he concludes.

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