What a place Iceland is. Some of the most beautiful waterfalls, glaciers, terrain and landscapes I’ve ever seen. Yesterday we visited a lagoon filled with blue water and icebergs. Last night we went back there to watch a fireworks show over the icebergs. Impressive. Then on the way home we saw the Northern Lights!
It is a great place to relax. But the relaxation was interrupted when I was sent a really horrible article written by Jim Coyne, President of the National Air Transport Association (NATA). NATA represents fixed base operators among others.
Now there are some legitimate differences of views on some issues between airports and FBO’s; but an effort to better understand each other’s perspectives is the best way forward. Indeed, we hosted two key FBO leaders at our small airports conference this summer. I am meeting with another Thursday in my office and we have a panel on this subject set for our annual conference. This is the way to go.
In the middle of all this, Jim writes an article called “How to Fire Your Airport Manager.” Jim’s a good guy, a former congressman, but this article goes way beyond advocacy. It employs the usual technique of assuring that any airport manager literate enough to actual read the piece is not the kind of person he’s talking about (airlines have also perfected this), and then goes on to say that many airports are “petty tyrants” among other things. It gives advice on how to get rid of airport managers, presumably those who do not roll over in negotiations with FBOs. It is NOT what we need right now, indeed it damages his members efforts to ensure that their airport partners better understand their views.
The airport is a community asset; it exists to provide a connection to the air transportation system for the community. It does not exist to serve corporate needs of airlines or FBOs or anyone else; it is there to serve the economic needs of the community.
In so doing, the business imperatives of airlines, FBOs and others can be advanced, especially the well-run ones. If it does not serve the needs of the community it is up to the community to decide whether or not to keep the manager. It is not up to the FBO providing services at the airport, especially when you consider the FBO wouldn’t be there without the airport in the first place.
So yes, let’s advocate for our members. Yes, I understand that every now and then we have to say provocative things. But let’s stay away from comparing airport managers to the likes of Papa Doc Duvalier and stay away from saying and doing things that undercut our own members’ interests. I look forward to our upcoming meetings with FBO leaders and to the ongoing effort to better understand different viewpoints.
Or do we really want airport managers trying to get FBO CEOs fired too?