Ramping Up

Paul Bowers
Published in: 

The primary reason this issue is "special" is broadcast on its cover: Runway & Ramp Special Edition. The number of great story ideas continuing to pour in about airfield operations was so incredible, devoting an entire issue to the topic was simply one of those "duh" moments.

However, it could also be argued that this issue is special because it covers the next possible iteration of the paradigm shift in airport operations: airports offering aircraft services typically provided by airlines or their agents.

Quad City International, for instance, is in the aircraft fueling business (Page 12); Charlotte-Douglas International is deicing (Page 16). Although their reasons for providing aircraft services are different, both are great examples of airports taking advantage of opportunity - and perhaps destiny.

And while two examples do not a trend make, their initiatives are relatively novel - at least here in the United States. They also probably give the National Air Transportation Association a severe case of heartburn, given its recent push for legislation that would require airports owned by cities, counties or states to contract out all aspects of FAA grant projects to private businesses - no matter how small the task.

At no point in the history of airport management has there been greater financial uncertainty. Counting on Congress to put the greater good of a steady, stable and predictable funding mechanism ahead of its own political interest (not to mention recesses) is too much to ask for. We need to be inventive and create ways to help ourselves.

Should airports offer contract services? Ultimately, the market will decide. Having the vision and courage to test the waters seems prudent. Airlines and their contractors have been shedding responsibilities for years; this is only the latest example. Surely there will be more to come.

Enjoy the issue.


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