In March, Jose Gonzalez-Mixco took up the position of vice president of Grupo EULEN’s Aviation Division. Based in Miami, he is responsible for managing all the company’s ground handling operations across its stations in the US and Jamaica
Grupo EULEN is best known as a facility and security services provider in its native Spain. Founded in 1962 and today having a presence in 12 countries, the group specialises in cleaning, security, auxiliary services (logistics, general, and telemarketing), facility services and management (FSM), socio-health services, comprehensive maintenance and global solutions for human resources, employment and the environment, as well as aviation services.
With regard to the latter, Grupo EULEN has a significant presence in the aviation industry in North America and the Caribbean. Gonzalez-Mixco is responsible for all its ground handling at 11 stations in the US (it currently has a staff of approximately 3,000 specialist professionals in the country across Florida, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Washington DC) as well as at two in Jamaica (at Kingston and Montego Bay airports).
More specifically, Gonzalez-Mixco is in charge of day-to-day oversight of Grupo EULEN’s operations, strategic planning, leadership development and employee engagement. He handles contract negotiations and resolving issues to ensure processes, systems, products, regulations and data are delivered seamlessly to all aviation customers.
Grupo EULEN’s US footprint takes in its home hub of Miami International Airport, where it serves a large number of American Airlines flights and is probably the second-biggest handler at the gateway, Gonzalez-Mixco says; New York JFK, where it has a major footprint at Terminal 8 and is amongst the top three handlers at the gateway; and a number of other East Coast and Florida airports including New York Newark, Ronald Reagan Washington National in DC, Tampa and Orlando.
At these locations it offers a range of services taking in above-wing and below-wing ground support, ramp handling, cabin cleaning and looking after passengers with restricted mobility (PRM), depending on the station. At the two Jamaica airports, for example, it offers the full range of ground handling services.
Gonzalez-Mixco’s initial priority coming into the company and taking up his new position was to truly understand the Grupo EULEN vision and to see how the company operates on a day-to-day basis. But it was always clear to him that his job would be to expand the group’s aviation footprint and he is now busy assessing how that might best be achieved.
While there will be no diminution in the focus on continuing to strengthen its presence at its existing 13 stations, there is certainly scope to expand westwards in the US: Denver, Houston, New Orleans, Minneapolis and Detroit are just some of the possibilities for expansion, Gonzalez-Mixco posits.
He is also considering a return for the company to Dulles International Airport in Washington DC. But growth must be achieved appropriately, Gonzalez-Mixco stresses, and there are obstacles to be overcome if expansion is to be successfully achieved.
Perhaps the main hurdle concerns the acquisition of the relevant GSE to support such a programme of expansion. When the Covid pandemic crisis eased and the aviation industry began a steep trajectory of recovery almost overnight, it was hard to find the people to handle the extra flights, he recalls. Yet that problem was overcome – and now the bottleneck is sourcing equipment. GSE delivery lead times on items such as loaders or pushbacks can be between 25 and 35 weeks, he points out.
Leasing rather than acquiring GSE might be a partial solution but is not appropriate in all cases. For the Jamaica stations, for example, the expense of delivery might preclude short-term leasing options.
Additionally, Gonzalez-Mixco is looking at improving the make-up of the group’s GSE inventory – most particularly, to expand its ratio of battery-powered, electric units. EULEN already has electric GSE at its Miami hub, for instance, but is looking to introduce non-polluting GSE at other locations. Tampa might be a priority in this regard but it is important to realise, Gonzalez-Mixco declares, that many gateways are not equipped with sufficient electric charging points for all-electric fleets of GSE.
Shortage of GSE availability and long lead times are in particular challenges, but Gonzalez-Mixco and his team are well positioned to overcome these hurdles, he says, and to achieve the steady but successful growth that he plans.