Case Study: Van Nuys Airport

Van Nuys Airport’s Operations Team Brushes up on Industry Best Practice


Van Nuys Airport is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the world. Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) owns and operates both Los Angeles International airport (LAX) and Van Nuys (VNY) general aviation airport. Both airports play an integral role in helping to meet the Southern California regional demand for passenger, cargo and general aviation services.

Christian Moreno is the Chief of Airport Operations at VNY and has been in this role for over two years. Amongst other things, Christian is responsible for maintaining a safe environment, ensuring that the airport is run as efficiently as possible, and making sure that all stakeholders and lease tenants comply with the airport’s rules and regulations.

The Challenge

One of Los Angeles World Airports’ strategic goals is, “To expect and support organizational excellence.” One way in which we do that is through the training and support of our employees. As part of the LAWA family, the team at Van Nuys Airport felt that a deep knowledge of all safety and security changes and advancements in airport operations was an important component of providing gold standard service. Keeping up-to-date with aviation changes and industry best practices allows for better customer service, a safer operating environment and provides opportunities to bring in new ideas and innovations, which is why in 2018, Christian sought out the most effective training solution for the team.

As with many other airports, the knowledge level among their Operations staff varied depending on each person’s former experience within the aviation industry. Completing team training would mean that each team member would have a standard baseline level of knowledge. Furthermore, training would provide a broader knowledge of industry best practices.

The Solution

In early 2018 Christian decided that the ideal training solution for all 10 Airport Superintendents of Operations was the Certificate in Airside Operations offered by ACI’s Online Learning Centre.

Once the team had successfully completed this certificate, Christian felt the team would benefit in continuing on to the Airport Operations Diploma Program and enrolled the Operations team in both the Certificate in Airport Business Operations, and the Certificate in Terminal and Landside Operations – earning each team member a Diploma in Airport Operations. To achieve the Airport Operations Diploma learners must complete all three certificates within a three-year time frame.

Christian remarked that he saw the value in progressing to the Diploma program as he knew it would give the Superintendents an overall basic knowledge and awareness of how to manage an airport.

The Benefits

The Airport Operations Diploma Program has given each Airport Superintendent a common shared baseline of knowledge. This helped them understand each other’s roles more clearly, reiterated the importance of the Operations team’s purpose and gave them the ability to function more effectively as a team. The Diploma has also given the team a better understanding of their role in the aviation system as a whole, and why their role in operations is so important for the safety and security of the airport.

“I am extremely proud of our Airport Operations team for the time and energy they invested to achieve the highest level of professional excellence,” said Van Nuys Airport Manager Flora Margheritis. She continued by saying “Their initiative demonstrates Los Angeles World Airports’ commitment to providing an exceptional level of safety, security and service at every level of our airport system.”

Lowell Carson, Airport Superintendent of Operations II, commented that:
“The training was very informative and beneficial to every day job duties. I gained a wealth of knowledge”.

Christian stated that the Diploma has reinforced the understanding that “one airport is not all airports.” The Diploma has given them more insight on the different ways that airports are managed, both for commercial as well as general aviation purposes, and how improvements could be made. It also provided great insight on how to secure funding from tenants, government sources as well as grants.

The training has made their Operations team more versatile and gives each team member the potential to work at both of LAWA’s airports. Christian also remarked that the team really appreciated having the ability to complete the training online, at their own pace and within their own schedules.

Cathy Berger, Airport Superintendent of Operations III commented that:
“The ACI training courses surpassed my expectations. I appreciated being able to complete the training at my convenience making it easy for busy and varying schedules.”
On a personal level each learner felt that the training gave them more confidence in their current roles. Each graduate agreed that going forward the Diploma will help them in their career progression.


The ACI Online Learning Centre would like to thank Christian Moreno and the Van Nuys Airport Operations team for taking the time to assist the OLC in developing this article.

Six Airport Superintendents of Operations from Van Nuys Airport who graduated with a Diploma in Airport Operations.
VNY Airport Superintendents James Bakeman, Robert Nash, Anahit Orbelyan, Lowell Carson and Cathy Berger, and VNY Chief of Airport Operations Christian Moreno pictured receiving ACI’s Diploma in Airport Operations.