The men and women who run North America’s smaller airports are a diverse lot. Some are on their way to senior management at large airports, but increasingly many of them make their careers at smaller facilities. There are many reasons for this; a big reason being that running a smaller facility, with much smaller staff, is a way for these airport professionals to remain directly engaged in all aspects of airport operations. Indeed, we ran sessions on issues such as environment, security, safety, concessions management and social media. These topics are all covered at some of our specialty conferences but often the smaller airports can’t send (or don’t have) staff to all these other events. That is why we provide this program specially geared to smaller airports.
During my first several years in this job, I spent a lot of time dealing with environmental issues. For various reasons, including a change in the national political climate (not the climate change pun), I spend much less time on them now (in contrast to my counterpart at ACI Europe, where environmental concerns including climate change, remain at the top of the list). But that does not mean they are less important. Indeed, nothing can slow airport development faster than environmental concerns, which is a reason our industry has been so proactive on environmental issues. It is also worth noting that the U.S. EPA is considering several initiatives that could drastically increase the cost of airport development and operations with no real environmental impact. We have worked, and are working hard to shape the outcome of that work and I will have more to say in the months ahead.
I did hear a very interesting anecdote yesterday; there have actually been emergency calls placed by people who have seen planes flying overhead but couldn’t hear them and assumed the engines were out. Aircraft noise remains a tough political issue, in many ways made tougher by the advances in technology that have reduced real noise but not perceived noise.
Before leaving Cincinnati, I joined my brother (who lives in the area) for a trip to the grave site of William Henry Harrison, our 9th president and the 28th presidential grave site I’ve visited. He was president for only one month, having caught pneumonia while delivering the longest inaugural speech in history (2 1/2 hours). Yes, he almost literally talked himself to death!