Aviation Manager Greg Atkin: on the importance of creating mutual value

Aviation Key Account Manager Greg Atkin has worked in the aviation industry for over 23 years and understands what it takes to create mutual value between Viva Energy and some of the largest domestic and international airlines operating in Australia.

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To know our customer you have to know their industry

“Aviation is a dynamic industry and continues to grow and develop, so having the knowledge of what has and hasn’t worked in the past is helpful to our customers of today,” says Greg.

However, Greg also acknowledges that like any industry the only constant is change. In aviation, airlines are dealing with increased passenger movements, new aircraft, and changes to the way they operate. Nevertheless, even with two decades of experience under his belt, Greg understands the importance of continuous learning to build on his knowledge to ensure Viva Energy is able to support its customers. 

Ultimately, airlines operate to connect people and to allow people to connect with the world. This is no different for Greg who has worked to build his connections with airline operators, airports, suppliers, and industry partners.  Part of this connection has been through Greg’s association with the Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA). “This relationship means that I’m able to speak regularly with people in the industry and find out, particularly from the aircraft operators, what issues and opportunities they face across their business. This helps us understand how their operations might be impacted and whether we, as a supply partner, can support them in any way,” says Greg.


Building a “work-together” culture 

This support also extends to working with customers to identify new opportunities for them and Viva Energy, based on the destinations they are servicing. Viva Energy supplies fuel at over 50 airports and airfields across Australia however, Greg says “good coverage is one thing but it’s also about knowing where the best locations are geographically to provide these refueling services. This involves being able to work with our customers to develop our network in a way that meets their flight schedules and benefits both parties.” 

Several years ago, one of our long-term airline partners approached us to supply fuel at a mine site to enable them to fly workers in and out. “We worked with the airline and with the mining company to establish a fuel facility at the site which allowed the airline to operate without having to divert to another location just to refuel. However, to ensure that the facility remained viable, the airline increased the amount of fuel they ordered to meet our minimum requirements. We’ve been supplying this airline with fuel since the company started and this exemplifies the work-together culture that we’ve established with them.”

Greg has managed this customer relationship from the very start and used his extensive experience as well as his relationships with the wider Viva Energy team to help the customer grow. “When I’m talking about our team, I’m talking about operations people, supply, our refuellers, our network managers, and our agents. They are all involved with delivering fuel to our customers, and without them we can’t support our customers. So knowing the team is behind me I am confident telling our customers that we have the network, we have the supply, and we have the people to provide them with the service that they are after.” 

“As a result of this support, we’ve been able to work with this customer as they have grown from two to over 38 aircraft. We value the strong loyalty they give to us as their fuel supplier, and in turn, we are loyal to them in the support we provide. They are an exciting and innovative company, always looking for new ways of working. And this is something we value in the relationship we’ve developed.” 


The impact of shared values on customer loyalty 

Safety and reliability are values that are critically important to Viva Energy’s operations and values we also share with our customers. “It’s important to the way we operate our business and we know it is paramount to the Aviation industry,” says Greg.

Having quality fuel is part of that. Greg is a chemist by profession and his first years in the industry were spent in a laboratory testing fuels and lubricants. “This early experience still provides me with knowledge and understanding today about fuel quality and standards. We have many checks and balances in place from the time the fuel leaves the refinery to the time it gets into the wing of the aircraft. We even go a little bit further in providing more testing at the aircraft to ensure that it is always on-grade.”

However, safety for Viva Energy isn’t just about supplying quality fuels. Over the past 12 months, we have rolled out a range of initiatives to improve the health and safety outcome for our team of refuelers around the country.

“The refueling team plays a critical role in providing airlines with fuel on time and ensuring that they  can deliver a reliable service to their customers. Airlines get measured on on-time departures and arrivals. This means that every airline values on-time fueling performance and we pride ourselves on making that happen.”

Investing to grow their business and ours

“As the aviation industry evolves, development of infrastructure to support the safe, efficient and reliable supply of aviation fuels is becoming increasingly important to our customers,” says Greg. 

For Viva Energy, this has meant investing in a new jet fuel tank at its Newport Terminal, new jet storage at Clyde Terminal in NSW and upgrading its Geelong Refinery jet fuel loading facility, which will improve fuel supply for Melbourne Airport and enable the transport of jet fuel via trucks direct to Avalon Airport. 

In addition, a new jet fuel tank at Viva Energy’s Cairns Terminal, which was commissioned in August 2018 “provides a much simpler supply chain and enables us to get fuel into Cairns Airport more readily and much more efficiently.” 

“We’re always on the lookout for new locations we can supply to,” says Greg. In Sydney, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development has forecast that demand for aviation services will double over the next 20 years, so there will be a need for more jet fuel supply. With construction under way for the new Western Sydney International Airport, Viva Energy is well-placed to supply fuel to the airport with its strategically located Clyde Terminal in the west. 

Honoring the past and inspiring the future

The new airport in western Sydney has been named after Nancy-Bird Walton, a pioneering Australian female aviator. Known as the ‘Angel of the Outback’, Greg had the opportunity to meet Nancy. “She was an absolutely amazing woman, a real pioneer in the industry who had a passion for flying and supported lots of people and organisations throughout her life.” 
In 2017, Nancy was inducted into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame (AAHOF), an initiative we’ve supported since 2012. “We chose to support AAHOF because we acknowledged the need to honour the people that have created the aviation industry and built it into what it is today,” said Greg. It would be a great source of pride for me if Viva Energy was able to one day supply our jet fuel into the airport named in her honour. 

Viva Energy remains committed to growing its aviation business and supporting its aviation customers. Greg feels that “we can work with our customers to give them the support, the service, and the quality fuels they need via our national network of airports and airfields. We are curious about our customers to understand how we can develop with them, and how we can excite and exceed their expectations with what we do. But the most important thing is to create mutual value which is good for their business but also good for Viva Energy as well.” 

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Learn more about how Viva Energy supports the Aviation industry.

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