The Van Nuys Airport is using a business aviation convention as a starting point to better market itself to aircraft owners and operators.

Airport General Manager Jess Romo spent two days at the National Business Aviation Association annual convention in Las Vegas, a first for an airport staffer. Romo met with NBAA representatives and spent time on the convention floor to visit the booths of aviation-related businesses. The convention, which wraps up today (Oct. 12), brought in about 23,000 registered attendees and 1,100 exhibitors.

"It opens your eyes to really appreciate how much goes into business aviation," Romo said.

Now that he’s gotten a taste for what a gathering of that size can offer, Romo sketches out how the airport can participate again.

In January, Van Nuys Airport will have a booth at the NBAA Schedulers and Dispatchers conference taking place in January. In April, TWC Aviation on the airfield hosts for a second time an NBAA regional conference.

Introducing the head of the airport to the NBAA convention is a good way to see the value of promoting it, said Curt Castagna, president of the Van Nuys Airport Association and operator of hangar and office space on the airfield.

“He can visit with other airports that display to get a flavor of what they are doing to promote (themselves),” Castagna said.

Castagna was among the airport master tenants attending a meeting on Oct. 10 with Romo, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen and National Air Transportation Association President Jim Coyne. Master tenants included Maguire Aviation, the Airtel Hotel, Castle & Cooke Aviation Services, Pentastar Aviation, and Signature Flight Support.

The result of the meeting was to get assurance from Bolen and Coyne that their respective groups were advocating on the airports behalf to lawmakers, while the tenants and Van Nuys staff would refine its collective message on how Van Nuys contributed to the economy, Romo said.

“With (Los Angeles World Airports) focusing on the Bradley (terminal expansion) and LAX, it was a good opportunity to get out the importance of Van Nuys to national aviation system and to business aviation,” said Tim Wray, chief operating officer of Maguire Aviation.