You Can’t Do That! Can You?

Paul Bowers

At first thought, you wouldn’t imagine that Pittsburgh International and Rogue Valley International have much in common. Their differences—size, location, traffic profile, etc.—keep thoughts and comparisons quite separate.

However, as you’ll learn in this issue, they do have one strong similarity: Their directors believe that airports are not simply departure and arrival points for ticketed passengers, but places where the general public is welcome and encouraged to visit.

Bern Case, airport director at Roque Valley International, has been at it a long time. He’s going to retire soon after managing the airport for 24 years. Over that time, he has developed an extensive list of ideas that serve the community and generate revenue. There’s the retired KC-97 Stratotanker aircraft that’s permanently parked just outside the airport fence. It’s used as a rental facility for parties. Inside the airport, he turned a spare room into a replica of the White House Oval Office that’s popular for weddings and other celebrations. Add in a unique restaurant and gift shop that serve customers inside and outside secured areas, and it’s clear that Bern has continually kept the community in mind. Check out the story on Page 50 to read about more of Bern’s clever ideas. 

In Pittsburgh, Allegheny County Airport Authority Chief Executive Officer Christina Cassotis has created an environment where friends and family can greet or say good-bye to their loved ones right at the gates. PIT is the first airport in the country to allow non-ticketed visitors access to airside gates, restaurants, shops and other attractions since 9/11 overhauled our security requirements. Sure, there are revenue opportunities to be had, but more importantly the community is invited within the secure area of the airport—make that their airport! See Page 36 for more details about how PIT pulled it off. 

In both cases, these airport leaders are thinking outside the box to bring in something exciting, something new. They’re reaching into their communities to forge stronger bonds. This not only makes financial sense, but it also creates a local fan base that is oh-so-important when addressing future growth.


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