Author Archives: webmaster

Here’s to the Guys and Gals in the White Hats

By Jane Calderwood

ACI-NA President Greg Principato noted in his opening speech Monday morning that he’d probably never look at the red and white color scheme again without being reminded of the great White Hat Volunteers of Calgary.  Based on the applause this comment elicited, it’s clear the audience shared his sentiment.

YYC's Norm Harvey, the deputy White Hatter, leads the delegates at the ACI-NA/World Annual Conference and Exhibition in the White Hat Ceremony.

The highlight of today’s opening session, for me, was the White Hat Ceremony.  Today’s ceremony, and the folks behind it, are truly representative of the western hospitality that is Calgary.  And while not everyone will admit it, a rather large number of attendees left the big hall proudly wearing their hats. The White Hat Ceremony dates back to 1950 and has been used to greet such dignitaries as the Dalai Lama Vladimir Putin and the rock group Aerosmith.  So we are in very good company.

We all know there is a proverbial ‘village’ behind every well run airport, and Calgary has more than 200 volunteers who greet guests and visitors and help them through the airport and ensures everyone receives a warm Calgary welcome. And it takes the efforts of the entire city to host an international convention, and YYC’s White Hat Volunteers have done Calgary proud.  I have yet to run into one who has not had a smile, a kind word and a plethora of helpful information (maybe because I look so confused?).

National Alliance to Advance NextGen — Supporters Wanted

By Jane Calderwood
Ed Knoesel from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey gave a brief presentation this morning at the US Government Affairs Committee asking airports to consider joining the National Alliance to Advance NextGenKnoesel pointed out that a serious ground delays in New York today ripples throughout the system impacting thousands of passengers and implementation of NextGen will help the health of our economy by minimizing delays and dealing with increased air traffic.

The alliance is asking for support in two forms:

  • Joining the Alliance
  • Local and state proclamations in support of NextGen.

Knoesel provided a draft resolution that works with everyone from the local city council to the governor.   The proclamation states that “Implementing nextgen technologies is a national issue and should be expedited to the benefit of the traveling public, the aviation industry, and our local, state and national economies.”

The alliance has been told by the aviation staff in Congress that they want “stacks of proclamations” from the state government on down.  The proclamations will be sent to Congress at the beginning of next year.

Commit to the Cause

By Jane Calderwood
The Government Affairs Committee met Sunday morning to discuss the Airports for the Future Campaign.  Chairman Mark Reis, of Seattle, had asked our consultants to find a case study to share that would give committee members a sense of the challenges ahead and proof that our path we are on is a winning one.

In a ‘David vs. Goliath’ analogy similar to airports vs. airlines, the committee heard the story of the debt card interchange issue, where businesses successfully took on the banks over the amount they had to pay for accepting credit card payments.  Given that the financial services industry spends an average of $150 million a year on lobbying and has five lobbyists per member of Congress, the case study struck me as being very similar to our situation.

The anti-bank campaign moved from a Washington focus to a local one after several years of not being able to win on their issue.  The merchants changed their messaging from a focus on the impact the high fees had on themselves to the impact it had on their customers, whether it was pitching the increased cost the fees forced people to pay when buying their groceries or filling their gas tank.  This took the wind out of the money and lobbying pressure from the banks.

They were also able to engage their local chambers, which is an encouraging sign for the Airports for the Future Campaign given that most local chambers have business owners and bankers on their boards, just as they have airports and airlines.

Speaking to the needs of the community, whether it is increased air service, increased tourism or the need to attract and/or retain businesses is going to be key in making the campaign a success.  The merchants won the day after a four-year battle And last year, they were able to beat back an attempt to repeal the language.  We can too, as long as the airports are committed to the cause.

New Self-Service Practices Detailed

By Aneil Patel
The Business Information Technology Committee kicked off the with several IT Hot topics that have bubbled up in North America airports.

Paul Lawrence from Calgary Airport, our Host opened the first session with the Airline and Passenger Service Initiatives, which will be implemented in their new International Terminal, scheduled to be opened in October 2015.

In the new terminal Calgary expects to extensively provide self-service capabilities from the curb to the gate. For example, the use kiosks from checking-in and self-tagging, automated bag drop equipment, self-boarding for domestic and international flights. Most importantly from a customer satisfaction perceptive, Calgary will be implementing many of the new systems in the existing terminal first. This will help the airport work through process, application, and customer service issues to smooth out the transition into the new International Terminal.

McCarran's Samuel Ingalls describes his airport's new terminal.

McCarran International Airport, recently open Terminal 3 and Samuel Ingalls shared the new terminal key features. Just a few interesting facts (non IT related) the new terminal is 2 million square feet and has 8 miles of roadway. McCarran T3 has over 200 kiosks for self- tagging and boarding passes only, with two bag tagging kiosks share a scale. The tags are printed inactive and are only marked active at passenger matchup tag to ID. Ingalls stressed lobby agents should teach passengers and not do the bag tag attachment themselves, otherwise its defeating the objective of “self-tagging.”

Terminal 3 really stands out from the rest, by having self-boarding gates and over 1,200 dynamic signs. Self-boarding is a fairly new concept in North America and airlines are still exploring best practices. For example at McCarran, JetBlue normally use only one of the two self-boarding gates, if they use both gate they end up with a longer line and congestion on the jet bridge. Most impressively are the 12×3 stacked – 46-inch monitors at each gate, with advertising and promotions, flight status, weather and each sign has the backdrop of the destination city.  The installation cost of dynamic signs will be recouped by advertising revenue.

Privatization of San Juan Airport Moves to FAA for Comments

Emmett McCann, bio
Managing Director
Highstar Capital

By Debby McElroy

The ACI-NA Board of Directors meeting featured a briefing on the expected privatization of Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (LMM Airport) in Puerto Rico.  Emmett McCann, Managing Director at Highstar Capital, a longtime veteran of transportation public private partnerships, discussed how Aerostar Airport Holdings LLC, a 50-50 joint venture between Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASUR) and Highstar Capital plan have worked with FAA and the airlines to make the first privatization program in the United States in more than a decade, be successful.

By way of background, a pilot program for airport privatization was included in the FAA Reauthorization of 1996, authorizing up to five airports to participate. (The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 increased the number of slots in the program to 10, an increase long advocated by ACI-NA.)  Only New York’s Stewart Airport had been approved to go private under the pilot program; in 2000 National Express Group won a 99-year lease. However, in early 2006, National Express decided to abandon its airport division and sold its lease at Stewart to the Port Authority of New York and New and New Jersey.

McCann indicated that in total, the airport privatization will provide the Puerto Rico Ports Authority and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico approximately $2.6 billion over the life of the 40 year lease. Aerostar Airport Holdings will provide an upfront payment of $615 million as well as a $6 million payment to the Puerto Rico Air Travel Promotion and Support Fund.

The most exciting news is the expected upgrade to LLM Airport. More than $1 billion in new capital expenditures are expected, with almost $200 million in the first three years of the lease. This includes significant airfield and terminal improvements and a significant enhancement of the food, beverage and retail concessions offered to travelers.

McCann indicated that federal approval for the privatization could come by the end of the year, culminating a three-year process which began in December 2009 and most recently saw Aerostar selected from a total of six bidders to manage the airport.  FAA is expected to issue a formal request for comments on the privatization next week.