Going the distance

6th August 2021

Mark Hicks
Business Development Director for Transport and Aviation at Wilson James


Despite the coronavirus pandemic causing significant disruption for travel and transport, there are still huge opportunities across the aviation sector and beyond to drive improvement and innovation.

The four years that I have been with Wilson James have been some of the most challenging and rewarding of my career so far, and there are some interesting times ahead as I embark on my new position as business development director of the company’s aviation and transport division. Obviously the last 18 months have been hugely disruptive for the aviation sector as a whole and we are yet to fully see what the long-term impact will be. I anticipate, however, that the experience of lockdown will have fuelled a desire to travel and that the UK’s airports will return to their previous levels of activity in due course.

Something in the air

According to ACI’s annual World Airport Traffic Forecasts (WATF) report, global air traffic is set to grow at a rate of 3.7 per cent per annum, with 19.7 billion passengers by 2040. As the general public resumes its love of air travel, Wilson James’ role at Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport and other regional airports will remain vital in terms of making sure that they operate smoothly and provide passengers with the best possible experience.

Wilson James boasts an ‘outstanding’ rating from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in Aviation Security Training, marking it out as one of an elite group of companies that is fully aware of the latest international security standards, up to date with crisis management and risk assessment best practice, and can demonstrate excellent standards of management. This makes us even more determined to develop our presence in the aviation sector.

Being prepared for the unexpected is one of the reasons why Wilson James is able to provide a flexible and responsive service. During the pandemic, we have been able to help in immigration halls with document checks, as well as passenger preparation on departure. It’s all about placing personnel where they are most required and we are actively ensuring that any ‘skill fade’ amongst colleagues is proactively addressed through return to work refresher courses and other online learning modules.

On the right track

It is with this aviation-based experience and expertise in mind that Wilson James is also looking at ways that it can promote its offering into other related areas. Foremost amongst them is the rail sector, where many of the skill sets that our aviation based colleagues possess could be fully utilised to good effect in similar services that Wilson James excel at within aviation – e.g. passenger services, security and assisting passengers with reduced mobility

Like airports, rail terminals can often be incredibly busy, confusing to navigate, noisy and disorientating. This is especially the case for passengers requiring assistance, who might need assistance at each stage of the process, such as when entering a station, boarding a train and storing luggage. We want to work with the sector proactively to enhance their proposition and support them to ensure that their stations are ultimately safe for people with disabilities.

Wilson James is in a great position to help, not just in terms of people and initiatives such as the sunflower lanyard scheme, targeted at passengers with hidden disabilities who wish to make it discreetly known that they require additional support, but with technology too. Wilson James Technology Services is able to configure a solution that enables cutting edge technology to complement the important human skills that our colleagues provide. For example, specialist software uses location tracking via a team member’s personal digital assistant (PDA) to ensure that a passenger’s departure and arrival experience is a safe, positive and timely one.

Bigger picture

Wilson James is able to add the greatest amount of value to a contract when it acts in true partnership with its clients to help them reach their strategic goals. Because we pride ourselves on our values-led approach to people and delivery, and actively seek to partner with like-minded organisations, we have found ourselves already well-placed as a trusted supplier when unexpected challenges arise. This approach also allows us to identify opportunities where our security and construction logistics divisions could offer their expertise and provide a fully integrated solution that anticipates and adapts to customer needs.

Just as importantly, we focus on providing colleagues with the type of training and skills development that creates safe, secure and welcoming environments. For example, Wilson James delivers tailored training packages using a mix of classroom based theory and practical on-site experience. We also provide PRM training, which identifies ways to address the needs of those that have disabilities. Trainees are advised how to assist these individuals by giving them more time to prepare at check-in, allowing them to remain with friends and family, and briefing them on what to expect as they travel through an airport.

Future proof

As we slowly emerge from the pandemic and experience the freedom to travel once again, Wilson James is already thinking outside the box, diversifying and identifying new ways to ensure that its offering can benefit the travel and transport sector. With highly trained staff, whose expertise is complemented by cutting edge technology, the company is able to provide the most effective security solution – all of which is good news for customers.


This article was originally published on LinkedIn.