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Columbian Aviation Exec Has Plans For European Airlines

Grenoble Ecole de Management MBA student Roberto Garcia says that Europe's legacy carriers need to reduce costs and improve service.

Columbian Roberto Garcia, a former aviation executive who is studying for an MBA at Grenoble Ecole de Management, has a plan for European airlines.

Roberto, 29, worked for one of Latin America's biggest aviation groups, AviancaTaca, from 2006 to 2011. “Aviation has always been my biggest passion. It goes into my blood and I don’t have words to describe it”, says Roberto, who is studying for a full-time MBA at Grenoble Ecole de Management's London campus.

Roberto was born in Cartagena, a city near the Caribbean sea in the north of Colombia. He graduated from with a degree in Industrial Engineering from Los Andes University, Bogota and began his career in the airline industry with AviancaTaca Colombia where he supported the development of the airline’s long term growth. The growth in the airline industry as new markets open up, including China and the Middle East, is the main reason why Roberto chose to study for an MBA at Grenoble.

“Once I finished university, I wanted to work for a Latin American airline and I did it!" Now, Roberto wants to gain a wider perspective on the industry. He is writing his MBA dissertation on new business models that European legacy carriers can implement to survive the growth of low cost carriers.

Roberto’s last role at AviancaTaca was as International Leisure Coordinator where he oversaw the Tour Operator and Charter program in all of AviancaTaca’s markets. He generated a 25% growth in revenues and led AviancaTaca’s products into new markets.

Having witnessed AviancaTaca’s transformation from a company on the verge of bankruptcy to a leading airlines service provider in Latin America, Roberto has some insights into the state of the airline industry. He observes that European legacy carriers now have to compete with both European low cost carriers and newer, more luxurious carriers from the Middle East and Asia that have a lot more resources.

In response to this, “Legacy airlines should move towards a more modern, competitive, innovative and sustainable business model which blends customers satisfaction through price and service and is focused on reducing the cost structure”, he says.

Roberto is building on his practical knowledge of the industry with his Grenoble MBA. “Any economic downturn especially within a highly competitive environment is a huge threat for legacy airlines but these risks can be minimised through cost reduction, route network optimisation and high quality service. This is just part of the normal cycle of a business which is expected to grow steadily in the next 20 years”, he says.

The choice to study at Grenoble’s London campus ensures Roberto will be privy to the air traffic over London’s sky and he is loving this. “Every time I see a plane fly it moves me and keeps me studying and working hard to grow the industry. I know I still have a lot to give but I also have to learn some more.” 

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