Category Archives: Holidays

ACI-NA Launches Edge4Vets at Airports Program

by Kevin M. Burke
ACI-NA President and CEO

This Memorial Day, ACI-NA celebrates the service members who have dedicated their lives to honoring and protecting the United States of America. In my mind, there is no better way to say thank you than to provide veterans with the skills and access necessary to make the transition to the civilian work force.

That’s why I am thrilled to announce the launch of our Edge4Vets at Airports program which aims to translate returning veterans’ military aviation skills to the civilian airport industry. This program, run through Fordham University’s Human Resiliency Institute and funded by the Walmart Foundation through the Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families, will begin phase I in New York at JFK and LaGuardia airports. The hope is that this pilot effort will expand across our ACI-NA network to member airports in the United States.

On May 21 Edge4Vets and ACI-NA officially announced this partnership at JFKIAT, and also hosted an informal ‘teach-in’ with young veterans looking to get into the civilian aviation industry and older aviation veterans who have been working the civilian side for many years (pictured at left). The event boasted 50 participants, including 25 veterans from a half-dozen schools and 25 airport mentors from Delta, American Airlines, JetBlue and Hudson Group.

For me, the ‘teach-in’ solidified the genuine interest returning service members have about working in our industry and affirms my commitment, as a CEO of a leading association in one of the United States’ top industries, to make sure we reach out to veterans about the opportunities in U.S. aviation.

Edge4Vets at Airports will be working with ACI-NA’s Human Resources Committee to train returning service members in four separate workshops, all of which will take place at airports to maximize veterans’ exposure to the facilities and employees. While we are just in the initial stages, the goal is to expand to member airports around the country, using our HR network and capitalizing on the Edge4Vets program infrastructure.

We’re fortunate that airports represent a wide variety of skills and career opportunities that match well to the types of training and skills service members already possess, and ACI-NA is proud to take this next step with this Edge4Vets at Airports program. As the nation’s military commitments return to peacetime readiness and more veterans are looking to return to civilian life, we are preparing to welcome our returning heroes with exciting career opportunities.

Edge4Vets at Airports is led by its founder, Tom Murphy, director of the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University. The Walmart Foundation, through Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, provided the grant to develop the plan for Edge4Vets at Airports. Edge4Vets will conduct a campaign to raise funds to implement the plan as a pilot in New York and then expand the program nationally to airports across the U.S. Edge4Vets will be working with Goodwill Industries “Operation: Good Jobs” program on this project.

Creating Destination Airports

By Eli Rassi
While most airports have traditionally focussed on efficiently moving passengers through the curb-to-plane experience, today some are working to make the airport a venue for conferences, art exhibits, community events, and even birthday parties. The final session at ACI-NA’s Annual Conference was geared towards how airports can increase non-aeronautical revenues while building stronger relationships and business ties with their communities.

Seattle’s Olivia Ingram outlined the benefit of having a facility attached to the airport. It’s all about convenience: this branded corporate meeting space allows for clients to fly in and out of the city without having to leave the airport. The conference center has seven meeting rooms, and 8,000 square feet of meeting space, all generally located in the same area. With all inclusive pricing rates that include “plug and play” capability to A/V, built in screens, and complimentary parking, Ingram said these benefits help attract a variety of clients from the community. The corporate meeting center has grown since first taking off in 2005, and has grown to contribute roughly 30 percent of non-aeronautical revenues.

In Denver, Stuart Williams explained that the airport’s capital projects include a 519 room Westin Hotel (owned by the airport, but operated by Westin), a commuter rail station that will connect to downtown Denver and an open air plaza. In total, the project will occupy over 700,000 square feet.

And to show how much a simple event can increase non-aeronautical revenues, attendees heard from Rahel Kindermann Leuthard, from Zurich Airport, who joined the conference via teleconference. Birthday parties are a big attraction at the Zurich airport.

To give you an idea, 750 children’s parties for children between 5 and 12 years old have been held since 2008. They last about three hours and feature entertainment and an adventure bus tour. Due to the success of marketing the program to the community, the airport is currently booked for birthday parties into 2014.

In 2012, 77,075 visitors took part in guided tours and bus tours (up 19 percent since 2011) and the observation deck saw 422,530 people. Together, guided bus tours have seen an increase from 2007 to 2012 of over 70 percent. All of this, though, is attributed to the strong reputation that the airport built with the community for over 60 years. They have come to know and expect great service from the airport, and the airport delivers.

During the conference, guests heard that airports exist to serve their communities. There is no greater evidence than the efforts airport make to create emotional connections with their communities.

Health Care and Holidays Don’t Mix

By Jane Calderwood, Vice President Government and Political Affairs

As 2009 winds down, the U.S. Senate’s health care slug fest continues to heat up.  And given all the grousing on both sides of the aisle, it is clear the Grinch won’t have time to steal Christmas this year as he’s too busy lurking about the Senate Chamber.  The Senate’s been busy, too, so busy in fact that they are on track to tie or break the record, set at the beginning of World War I for most consecutive days in session.  And they haven’t been working your average 9 to 5 work day.

Capitol in snowSaturday at 1 a.m., in the early hours of what became the biggest December snow storm on record in D.C., the Senate took a procedural vote on the Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Appropriations bill.  Six hours later they came back to pass the bill as snow fell fast and furious, at times nearly obscuring the Capitol from view.

And it turned out to be a good thing that the Senate bill clerks got in a little practice last week reading aloud – three hours’ worth of Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 700 plus page single payer amendment.  It served them well this weekend when they spent more than seven hours reading the entire 383 page health care amendment offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Monday, just after 1 a.m., the Senate voted 60 to 40 to invoke cloture on the Reid amendment, which contains all the changes made/deals arranged to get 60 votes on final passage of the health care bill.  This vote set the Senate on track for 90 more hours of debate and three more votes – with final passage slated for 7 p.m. Christmas Eve, unless the procedural games are halted.

Of course, Senate passage of a health care reform package doesn’t put the issue to bed.  A joint House-Senate conference committee will need to reconcile the differences between the two versions of the bill.  Once an agreement is reached by the conferees, it will be sent back to both chambers for a final vote.  So the health care debate will continue to be the focus for Congress as we move into the early months of 2010.