XNA seeks succession plan, implements geofence

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 1,084 views 

Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport has received three proposals from nationwide executive consultants to help it to develop a plan for succession of its administrative staff, the skills of the future staff and its structure.

On Wednesday (Aug. 16), members of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority discussed the responses to the request for proposals from the consultants. They also discussed the geofence technology XNA will put into place for ride sharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft.

XNA’s existing consultant, Allyson Malone of A Malone LLC in Fayetteville, has worked with CEO Scott Van Laningham to seek out the three proposals from the following consultants: Korn Ferry, Mercer and Russell Reynolds Associates.

“They specialize in executive assessments as well as search firm capability, and that’s the type of firm we want to come in, look at who’s here, look at the skill sets that we’ve got but then look at the future for the organization and tell us what that next generation needs to look like,” Van Laningham said.

Malone, who has helped the airport on hiring and training, is working to find a bigger consultant, Van Laningham said. This is the first time the airport has looked to hire a large consultant for succession planning and restructuring of its staff. Malone said she has worked on the project for about a month and does contract work for the airport about once or twice a year.

While Van Laningham didn’t announce a retirement date, he understands retirement will inevitable for he and other staff. And the consultant would help in the succession planning, including looking at its existing executive staff hierarchy and determining whether the airport should add certain C-level positions and to finding out the necessary skillsets for the positions.

“What’s their characteristics? What’s their talents?” Van Laningham said.

The proposals from the consultants will be reviewed by XNA’s attorney before a consultant would be selected. The goal is to have a consultant on board this fall and for a plan to be in place early next year. The plan would be implemented after that. XNA has between 46 and 47 full-time employees.

Airport director Kelly Johnson said the geofence will be active Thursday (Aug. 17), but it won’t track any company as of yet. Lyft, which has agreed to operate under the geofence, has yet to receive approval from the state to operate in Arkansas. But Johnson expects the company will receive approval in the next month.

The geofence system can track Uber or Lyft drivers as they come to the airport. A third-party company will track the arrivals and charge the respective company $2 per pickup. The company will charge a 5% fee for this service and distribute the remaining money to the airport. The long-term plan is for existing taxi cab companies to also operate under the same geofence system.

XNA does not now collect money from Uber for its drivers to pick up passengers at the airport, Johnson said. However, existing taxi cab companies are charged $150 per month to operate at the airport. Shuttle services are charged even more, based on how much they bid for a parking space at the airport. The airport generates the largest portion of its revenue from parking fees, and does not receive funding from area cities.

Johnson explained the airport can be viewed like the Northwest Arkansas Mall in which it offers spaces for tenants to do business at a cost. Uber drivers are working for a profit and should pay to do business at the airport, she said. While Uber has yet to sign an agreement to operate under the geofence, she expects the company will sign on by the end of the month.