The Directors Panel at ARN

I’m in Houston for the annual Airport Revenue News Conference and Exhibition. They have a good crowd this year, and the overall mood here, I think it is fair to say, is one of cautious optimism. Though the emphasis is more on the first word than the second. 

This conference is heavily geared to airport concessions and the main players in food, beverage and retail are all here. As I told the crowd this morning when I moderated a panel of airport directors, it is airports and their concessionaire partners who have really stepped up to the plate to fill the customer service needs of our passengers — needs filled in earlier and better times by airlines. So, it is great to be able to spend time with these folks. 

On the directors panel we had Ben DeCosta (Atlanta), Steve Grossman (Jacksonville), Jeff Fegan (Dallas-Ft Worth), Eric Potts (Houston), Brad Penrod (Pittsburgh) and Lou Terpin (former director at Toronto and San Francisco). These gentlemen are excellent representatives of an industry that is as good at meeting a challenge as any I have ever seen. All expressed concern about security and wondered if we will ever be able to break free from a mindset that has us reacting from crisis-to-crisis. They all talked about customer service demands and how much more business-like the airport industry has become. There was general agreement that airport privatization will become somewhat more prevalent, with all but Potts saying they thought there would be more than six airport privatizations in the U.S. in the next decade. 

As I mentioned, this conference is heavily geared toward concessionaires. I wanted to mention one in particular; because they are doing something that I think is pretty neat. Green Beans Coffee, which has a presence on many overseas military bases (11 in Afghanistan alone), has a program called Cup O’ Joe for a Joe. You can buy a cup of coffee for a soldier and also send a note of thanks. A portion of the proceeds is donated to charities that help military families and their children. Go to greenbeanscoffee.com/coj to learn more. 

And, if anyone knows about another company doing good work like this that I can highlight in a future post, please let me know

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2 thoughts on “The Directors Panel at ARN

  1. Greg, thanks for your post. I was interested in your comment on airport privatization–it can be a confusing term. Did the director’s panel mean privatization in the sense that government-owned (state, city, municipalities) airports would be sold outright to commercial enterprises? Or that private-sector participation would be maximized for these airports? Also, any idea on which airports might be candidates?

    TIA for your comments…

  2. Judy,
    We did not get into the specific forms of privatization, the question was framed broadly. I don’t think anyone expects many airports to be sold outright any time soon. I have always thought, though, that once a big city mayor cashes a large check for privatizing an airport, other mayors will want the same opportunity. Mr. Terpin made the same exact point. Given the current state of municipal finance, this option may become more attractive to some political leaders. If so, they may pressure Congress to change the current law.

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