Interview with Jared Harckham

Vice President, ICF Aviation, Travel & Tourism Advisory 

Jared Harckham  

Vice President, ICF Aviation, Travel & Tourism Advisory

Jared Harckham, Vice President of ICF Aviation Advisory is one of the world's leading experts on international business aviation.

With 22 years of experience with major airlines in the United States and Mexico, Mr. Jared Harckham joined ICF because of his expertise in the areas of airline strategy, network and fleet planning, alliances and marketing, as well as air service development and airport planning.

Mr Harckham previously worked in commercial aviation; he held a number of network planning positions at TWA and was senior vice president of commercial planning at Aeromexico, where he led strategy, scheduling, planning, forecasting, pricing, revenue management, distribution, government affairs and alliances for Mexico's largest airline.

Jared Harckham is regarded as the designer of the Skyteam alliance, of which he was one of the founders.

Mr. Harckham holds an M.B.A. in Management with a concentration in Marketing from Columbia University and a B.A. in History from Emory University.

 What is ICF Aviation Advisory and what does it offer?

Before talking about Aviation Advisory, it is important to understand a little about ICF in general.  ICF is a consultancy, founded in 1969, based in Washington, in the United States.  With $1.6 billion USD in revenues and 9000 employees, ICF works in multiple areas. The primary purpose of ICF is to make the world a better place. This is reflected in ICF's work in multiple areas of sustainability, climate change, public policy, public health and much more.

What is the main objective of ICF Aviation Advisory?

The Aviation Advisory group within ICF focuses on assisting airlines, airports, tourism DMOs, aircraft manufacturers, investors, governments and aviation stakeholders of all types. The core practice focuses on corporate strategy, route network and fleet, sustainability, passenger experience, relationship and synergies with tourism, financial transactions in the sector, and much more.

How is ICF Aviation Advisory different from other similar firms?

The group has many differences. Most of our consultants come from aviation, and do not learn during a project.  Because we work with every type of client in aviation and tourism, we have a 360-degree view of the industry.  This holistic understanding allows us to offer better solutions to our clients. In addition, the aviation team has available all of ICF's expertise related to aviation and tourism, including sustainability, energy, disaster recovery, communications, public health, smart-cities, data management, social media, etc.

You have a wealth of experience not only in the day-to-day planning of an airline or an airport, where do you feel most at home?

I have worked as a planner within airlines in the United States and Mexico.  The job gave me a lot of satisfaction.  But, consulting work offers enormous variety, with clients in every corner of the world, with every type of airline, airport, investment, regulator, tourism project and more.  A job that changes every week is fascinating.

What is the current state of commercial aviation and where is it heading?

We have all seen the effect of the pandemic on the global travel and tourism sector.  Fortunately, the sector is recovering strongly, with results above 2019 in many regions of the world.   Commercial aviation can continue to grow with more aircraft varieties, routes, changes in traveller focus, emphasis on the environment.

Is sustainability a current or pending issue in aviation?

Sustainability is a key issue for every entity in the industry now.  Airlines are starting to use Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), researching electric and hydrogen aircraft, among other technologies. Airports are implementing energy efficiency programmes, electric vehicles, among other efforts. Destinations are also emphasising the environment, energy efficiency and many more topics that would require a whole other interview. 

After COVID, how has aviation changed?

Nothing and everything.  Aviation came out with more demand than ever, but with a lack of sufficient employees, passengers and governments pushing the issue of sustainability, new aircraft and engine technology, passengers looking for authentic experiences.

Without air transport, there is no international tourism. What role do international airline alliances and strategies play in the development of tourism destinations?

Global alliances, like tactical airline alliances, serve to link the networks of two or multiple airlines in a way that makes it easy for passengers to travel seamlessly on a multi-flight itinerary.  Also, alliances allow the accumulation of miles or points in frequent flyer programmes.  For destinations, alliances give access to more source markets and more flight options, which leads to overall market growth.

In your opinion, do destinations know how to plan their air connectivity strategies, or are we still in the myth of "it's all about the number of flights without planning"?

ICF has decades of experience working with tourism ministers, regional and local destinations and airports on "Air Service Development". External consultants are hired by destinations/airports because the job profile is different; technical, fast changing and involves personal contacts. DMOs and airports are experts in managing their business, but dealing with airlines requires another expertise, with in-depth knowledge of how airlines make their decisions and what market information they need to define the profile of a destination.

Do you consider IATA to play a strategic role in the airline industry or is it just another international institution?

IATA is a key institution for the well-being of the airline industry.  IATA sets standards for many elements of the functioning of the industry, so that each airline or each country does not have to invent its own rules or regulations.  IATA makes it easier for the entire industry globally to work under the same rules for security, payments, insurance, sales channels and much more.  It is a topic that deserves an interview with IATA.

Do you think the airline industry is making efforts to provide creative and innovative solutions to users?

The airline industry has been one of the most important forces of change in the last hundred years and will continue to be so. Today, key airlines have their own investment funds and innovation workshops, investments in supersonic aircraft, artificial intelligence, sustainable fuels, passenger experience and many more that can be mentioned in this forum.   It counts on airlines and related businesses to keep changing the world.

Many passengers consider travel, with all the airport crossings, security checks, moments spent on the plane, etc., to be very aggressive and to have big moments of friction that fall on the passenger, what do you think of this statement?

The industry is polarising and both ultra-low cost airlines and semi-private airlines are growing. There is room in aviation for all traveller profiles and segments, so there is demand to appeal to all these groups. If you are looking to pay the minimum and buy a no-frills fare on an ultra-low-cost flight, the service is going to be extremely basic, but the airline is going to get you from point A to point B at a very reasonable price.

Jared Harckham  

Vice-president, ICF Aviation, Travel & Tourism Advisory 

Some members of the Tourism and Society Think Tank Steering Committee, and especially our chairman Mr. Antonio Santos, have asked us to convey our interest in collaborating with ICF Aviation Advisory and with you as a professional, what do you think your company can contribute to TSTT and its almost 92,000 members?

It would be a pleasure for all areas of ICF to collaborate with TSTT members.

How do you see the aviation world in 20 years?

That's a good question.  Aviation and tourism will continue to grow, but with more individualised experiences for travellers. The use of computing and artificial intelligence makes this feasible. The industry will be greener and more sustainable through engines, fuels and other best practices.  We will see new aircraft; EVTOL, electric, hydrogen, supersonic, as examples.

Dear Mr. Jared Harckham, we thank you for your kindness and attention. You have given us knowledge and brought us closer to an industry like aviation that is used by all, but few know from the inside as is the international commercial aviation, and please count on the Tourism and Society Think Tank for anything you consider.

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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