Author Archives: mdye

Yahoo! White Hats Galore

By Julien DeSchutter

The floor of the BMO Centre Hall C will be a sea of white cowboy hats on Monday, Sept. 10 as the ACI-NA/World Annual Conference and Exhibition opens with Calgary’s own White Hat Ceremony.

More than 900 hats will be placed on chairs waiting to be donned by conference attendees. The hats may look familiar as they are part of the uniform of the White Hat hospitality volunteers at Calgary International Airport.

On Monday, one of these volunteers will repeat a half-century-old tradition by administering the oath to induct each guest wearing the hat as an honorary Calgarian. Each attendee will find a folder with the history of the hat and its significance to Calgary along with a fill-in-your-name certificate certifying their status as an honorary Calgarian.

The white cowboy hat became a symbol of Calgary back in 1948 when Calgary Stampeders fans wore their hats to the Canadian Football’s Grey Cup in Toronto. Most Calgary fans wore cowboy hats made by Calgary hat maker, Morris Shumiatcher of Smithbuilt Hats.

A young alderman, Don MacKay, was along on the famous trip east and went on to become a high-profile Calgarian.  After he was elected Mayor in 1950, MacKay distributed white hats as gifts to all visiting dignitaries and soon the symbol of the white hat was well established.

The Calgary Convention & Visitor Bureau (now Tourism Calgary) eventually took on the tradition of presenting the White Hat to dignitaries.  And in time, the manager of hospitality relations at Calgary International Airport assumed the responsibility for performing the ceremony and offering an Honorary Calgarian certificate to anyone who purchases or brings an appropriate White Hat for their guests.

Ceremonies today are conducted by the airport’s White Hat volunteers, by Tourism Calgary within the city, as well as the mayor for visiting dignitaries.

While this ceremony may not be a world record (The World Petroleum Congress holds that one), it will be memorable. Be prepared with your best ‘Yahoo’ and we will all have a bit of fun.

If your hat is the incorrect size, please exchange with your neighbor, or exchange it at the Team YYC welcome booth after the session is complete.

What is the World’s Energy Future?

Watch Switch on Saturday and Find Out. 

By Katherine Preston

How much energy does one person use in a day? A year? A lifetime?  Where does our energy come from? How do we produce it?  Are we running out of conventional energy sources? Can alternative energy sources ever meet our full energy needs?    In a world where all we have to do is flip a switch and our coffee maker comes to life, filling our kitchens with the intoxicating aroma of our morning caffeine rush (by the way, how much energy did it take to grow, pick and ship those beans?), it can be easy to forget where all the power that we use comes from, let alone knowing the answers to the above questions!  Enter Dr. Scott Tinker.

Dr. Tinker is what we’d call an energy expert…that is, if you consider being the Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology and the State Geologist of Texas, the acting Associate Dean for Research and a Professor at the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, and traveling all over the world to give lectures on energy to government officials, academia and industry an expert.  Thankfully, experts generally enjoy sharing their knowledge with us non-experts, and that is exactly what Dr. Tinker is up to in his award-winning documentary Switch. (View the trailer.)

This fast-pace documentary will be screened on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. in the Hyatt’s Imperial 7/9 meeting room. This film will hold the interests of all – not just the environmental types!

One reviewer notes that “Switch is engaging, funny and educational, all at the same time.”

Dr. Tinker is on a mission to inform the American public (and hopefully the world) about energy – our use of it, how it is produced, the pros and cons of the different sources of energy, and finally, a look at what the future of energy might look like.  This incredibly informative and refreshingly balanced documentary takes the viewer on a journey from a coal mine in Wyoming to the largest wind farm in the world in Texas, from a deep-water oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, to a massive geothermal power plant in Iceland, and many, many more stops along the way.  Dr. Tinker interviews CEOs of energy companies and government officials, renewable power experts and plant managers.  When watching Switch I guarantee you’ll find yourself thinking, “wow, I never knew that!” at least a half-dozen times (and if not then I guess you’re smarter than me).

Energy is critical to our society – we depend on it to power our homes, our cars, the global economy, and most importantly for us, our airports and aircraft!  It’s about time we learned a little more about the thing on which we are most dependent. Come watch Switch with us!

Some Fun Facts:

  • Filmed in 11 countries
  • The crew visited 27 world-leading energy sites for all energy types
  • Includes 53 expert interviews:
  • 24 renewable energy specialists
  • 19 fossil energy specialists
  • 11 plant managers for all energy types
  • 10 of the world’s leading energy experts in government and academia
  • 9 CEOs of international energy companies – both fossil and renewable fuels
  • Switch took 2 years to film, shooting over 500 hours of footage

How much energy does one person use in a day? A year? A lifetime?  Where does our energy come from? Thankfully, experts generally enjoy sharing their knowledge with us non-experts, and that is exactly what Dr.  Scott Tinker is up to in his award-winning documentary Switch. Read the full blog.

Many Challenges Remain One Year After the FAA Shutdown

By Debby McElroy

One year ago, Congress allowed the authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to expire for two weeks, throwing a huge wrench into one of our nation’s most important resources – our air transportation system. Despite the fact that airports are locally owned and operated, our members were significantly affected by this federal shutdown – and by the uncertainty that persists in federal aviation policy.

Airports think and plan in the longest of terms, as we face the projection of continued growth in both passenger and cargo traffic. In fact, the FAA projects that by 2024 over 1 billion passengers will travel through U.S. airports. The terminals and runway improvements required to ensure safety and meet future capacity and efficiency needs average 5 to 10 years to complete, and are crucial to ensuring that airports can support growth in our local and national economies.  Yet despite the fact that Congress reached agreement this February on a three-year FAA reauthorization, many challenges remain.

Airports and their communities still lack the control, flexibility and options to help raise non-taxpayer funds for airport improvements. Our major tenants, the airlines, continue to face financial challenges and are flying fewer planes and reducing air service, in an effort to increase their profitability.  And airports wait, with many other industries, to understand the impact that sequestration will have on the FAA, TSA and CBP staffing.

A strong airport helps attract new businesses and jobs to a region, and helps existing companies grow and expand to new markets and new opportunities.  Airports themselves are a source of employment for 1.3 million Americans, and support a total of 10.5 million jobs and $1.2 trillion in economic output. And although our members are federally regulated, they’re locally owned and operated, and don’t rely on taxpayer dollars for funding.

In fact, it’s possible that one of the reasons that Congress decided to use the FAA as a political example is that they knew that the real backbone of the system – airports – would continue to be open for business. But as we reflect on the vital economic role airports play in our communities and our country, we feel it’s a role that makes us deserving of a more constructive and productive approach to future policy debates.

Your support is crucial.  If the airport is a vital part of your life or business, we encourage you to help us share our message.  As you may have heard, a few miles of highway gets you further down the road, but a few miles of runway gets you anywhere in the world.  So please urge your elected officials to consider the important role that airports play in our communities, and our country, at every opportunity.


Airline Touts Culture of Care

By Christine Cusatis

At Calgary-based WestJet, employees are stockholders, common sense trumps policy and Elvis impersonators promote flights to Las Vegas.

WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky

In the keynote address for the 2012 Marketing and Communications Conference in Sacramento on Monday, Gregg Saretsky, CEO, WestJet, said the airline’s unique culture directly contributes to its success.

“It’s a story about being something other than just another airline,” he said.

To illustrate this culture, Saretsky showed a video clip of the airline’s tongue-in-cheek April Fools commercial promoting child-free flights, which went viral earlier this year.

He said that WestJet’s approach empowers staff, termed “WestJetters,” to do the right thing for customers.

“We take care of our people,” he said.

WestJet employees are given financial ownership of the airline through an employee share purchase plan and twice-a-year profit sharing. Furthermore, employees are given a chance to share their opinions. They were included in the vote to launch a regional airline, and will determine its name through a contest.

As an indicator of its success, WestJet reported that first quarter net earnings were up 42 percent from 2011 and that plans are underway for a regional airline complete with Bombardier Q400 turboprops. In January, WestJet announced it won an auction for slots at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

The airline’s goal is to be one of the five most successful international airlines in the world by 2016.

Heated Floor Debate on Cutting Federal Spending

By Annie Russo

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives considered H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012, introduced by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI).  According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) the bill would yield $243 billion in deficit reductions over the next ten years and would replace of the $72 billion in cuts that would take effect in January due to the sequester mandated by the debt ceiling deal.

The debate on the House floor was heated at times on both sides of the aisle raising the age old debate of military versus non-military spending, as H.R. 5652 would prevent the deep cuts to defense that the sequester would bring.  House Republicans defended the proposal citing that they were taking a common sense approach by replacing the sequester’s across the board cuts.  H.R. 5652 passed by a mainly party-line vote of 218-199.

The bill will likely not see time on the Senate floor as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that he is only interested in taking a “balanced approach” to replacing the sequester, meaning that he supports increasing revenues as well as making budget cuts.  The Administration also went on the record in opposition to H.R. 5652 saying “the bill’s unbalanced provisions fail the test of fairness and shared responsibility.”