The Best and the Brightest

Paul Bowers

All too often I hear criticism that airports are risk-averse. That the collection of public employees would rather stay the course and follow what has been standard practice for years than push the envelope and risk losing precious funding, or worse, possibly be embarrassed locally or in front of their industry peers.

This September issue is a testament to the culture of brave risk-taking that pushes the status quo. What airports deserve a special shout-out for innovation?

  • DSM – Des Moines International implemented an ORAT program that began as the design phase of its new terminal was barely underway.
  • LNK – When traditional avenues failed to produce results, Lincoln Airport used American Rescue Plan funds to start its own airline. OK, technically it’s not the airport’s airline, but it devised a very innovative way to secure scheduled air service that it controls.
  • PGV – Pitt-Greenville Airport secured CARES Act funds for new corporate hangars to offset revenue losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • MSP – A team from the airports commission that owns and operates Minneapolis-St. Paul International earned a U.S. patent for a machine learning technology that collects aircraft noise data. Wow, how innovative is that?!

Here’s one last airport I need to recognize: SEA.

Earlier this year, we wanted to do a story about homelessness at airports—a problem that some commercial carrier airports have to deal with. It’s messy, and none of the airports contacted wanted to go on record and participate in a story about it…until I called Seattle-Tacoma International. The folks there have come up with a program that is very promising—and stresses more compassionate response strategies. Plus, they were willing to talk about it openly to benefit the rest of the industry.

My goal for each and every issue is that you’re glad you took the time to read it because you learned something. Let me know if we have succeeded with this issue.



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