Celebrating April as U.S. Airport Professional Appreciation Month

 

As U.S. Airport Professional Appreciation Month comes to a close, we have been so excited to celebrate the airport industry professionals who are demonstrating their commitment to industry excellence and professional development.  We recently caught up with Sylvia A. Palmer, Vice President, Operations and Regulatory Affairs, at the Airport Consultants Council to learn about her experience in the program.  Sylvia recently completed her USAP studies and is now an accredited U.S. Airport Professional.  She is one of eleven students to be celebrated this first U.S. Airport Professional Appreciation Month!

ACI-NA: Why did you decide to enroll in USAP?

SP: In 2020, as the aviation industry was undergoing massive disruption, I desired a resource that would provide a comprehensive overview of the entire U.S. airport system as we knew it, and the all-encompassing evolution occurring as a result of the pandemic’s wide-reaching impact on the aviation industry.

ACI-NA: How is USAP making you a better airport industry professional?

SP: The USAP program’s detailed and well-constructed modules touched on every aspect of the U.S. airport ecosystem, in a cohesive manner. It helped me understand the changing industry landscape, and operational and management strategies that would help to re-invent the overall airport and travel experience. The program is also helping me better understand how to engage airport development stakeholders and regulatory bodies in the advancement of a more resilient, efficient, sustainable, customer-centric aviation system.

ACI-NA: What would you say to a friend or colleague who expresses interest in USAP?

SP: I endorse the USAP program for anyone who desires to grow as a leader within the aviation industry. It strengthens the critical skills necessary to effectively manage and lead change in the current dynamic airport environment. Congratulations to ACI-NA for delivering such rigorous professional development, and thank you for the opportunity to participate.

About the USAP Accreditation Program

In 2020, ACI-NA launched an accredited e-learning training curriculum, the U.S. Airport Professional (USAP) Program, to equip students with the leadership and strategic management skills necessary for personal and professional advancement in the U.S. airport industry.  The program was developed in collaboration with U.S. airport industry and professional development experts.

Comprised of seven online courses and a writing assignment, the USAP accreditation program covers the full range of current airport management topics, including leadership development, business strategy, commercial management, finance, operations, safety, security, air service, and more.  Each student who completes the program is permitted to use the USAP credential to demonstrate their understanding of the U.S. airport system.

Learn more about the U.S. Airport Professional accreditation program at www.usairportprofessional.org.

 

Houston Airport System Showcases Edge4Vets “Success Vets”

By Tom Murphy, Director, Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University.

As airports strive to rebuild their workforces after the pandemic, there is no better employee than a military veteran. However, studies show that veterans need support to translate their military skills into tools for civilian success. ACI-NA continues work with the Edge4Vets program conducted by the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University in New York to accomplish the task.

And it’s working. The Human Resources Department at Houston Airport System (HAS) is leading in the implementation of the online Edge4Vets training for veterans in the Houston community and that is serving as platform for national expansion.

A new video, Edge4Vets – Success Vets,” profiles two veterans, Chris Mercado and Don Konecki, who took the training at HAS, got hired, and now are performing at a high level.

Research shows that veterans bring unique skills, including a strong work ethic, a desire for responsibility and an ability to work as a team, but often because they don’t possess a strong network of contacts after separating from the military they can have a hard time breaking in.

Chris and Don talk about the frustration of applying for jobs before Edge4Vets and never hearing back – in the video Chris calls looking for a job “like being in a black hole.”

Both attest to benefits they gained from taking Edge4Vets, including instruction to identify their transferable skills from the military, support to articulate their skills in civilian terms and learning how to create a personal “PLAN4SUCCESS” for an “edge” to get hired. In addition, they talk about help they received from HAS HR staff and hiring managers who served as mentors to guide them during the training.

The Edge4Vets online course is being expanded for all airports that are ACI-NA members, and HAS is offering a SPRING 2022 workshop series beginning April 14. The program has the support of colleges in the Houston community, local veterans’ groups as well as University Aviation Association which will be participating in the national expansion of the program.

For more information about Edge4Vets, visit edge4vets.org.

To join the network of ACI-NA airports participating in the national expansion, contact Nancy Zimini or Tom Murphy.

Marking 20 Years of Our Partnership with TSA

By Kevin M. Burke, President and CEO, ACI-NA

Collaboration has long been the hallmark of our industry.  No matter if we’re in a season of joy or a time of crisis, the greater aviation industry has always found common ground to help ensure the health, safety, and security of the traveling public.  Whether responding to a global pandemic or a security incident, our industry is built on strong partnerships.

One of our closest partners is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an agency comprised of tens of thousands of individuals who are dedicated to ensuring the security of the traveling public. The close partnership with TSA has been critical during the pandemic in helping airports remain operational while working collaboratively to provide for the health, safety and security of the travelers, employees and tenants.

Just two months ago, ACI-NA and the airport industry recognized the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks that significantly impacted our industry, and resulted in widespread enhancements in aviation and airport security across the world.

Today, we mark another significant milestone in aviation security: the twentieth anniversary of the TSA.  On this very day, 20 years ago, President George W. Bush signed into law the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, legislation that would further enhance aviation security through the creation of TSA and help restore public confidence in air travel.

The legislation directed the newly created TSA to hire, train, test and deploy Transportation Security Officers; purchase and install Explosive Detection Systems for screening checked baggage; hire and dispatch Federal Security Directors to airports to oversee screening operations and verify airports’ compliance with established regulations.

Airports remain committed to working with their TSA partners to ensure effective security through the implementation of risk-based measures to mitigate current and emerging threats, and in response to assessments.  Due to the unpredictable nature of security threats, airports often go above and beyond baseline security requirements, implementing additional processes, procedures, and technologies that are adapted to each airport’s unique geographic locations and facility designs.

While passengers see security checkpoints, the most recognizable part of the aviation security system they do not see the fully integrated, multi-layered approach to airport security that happens behind the scenes.

Maintaining the safety and security of the traveling public is the top priority for airports.  Airports, in full compliance with federal requirements, continually work with their TSA, law enforcement and airline partners to examine, test, and improve upon the risk-based security system to provide for the safety and security of travelers.

So much has changed in the last 20 years, including the overhaul and expansion of aviation security and the creation of agencies like the TSA.

We appreciate the strong partnership we have with TSA and our other aviation partners.  Our security mission is a shared mission.  During the pandemic airports worked closely with their TSA partners to deploy contactless security systems and technology to further enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the aviation security system.

Notably, a new generation of airport leaders have joined our industry since the 9/11 attacks and the creation of TSA.  These leaders will build upon the extensive work that has been conducted and the lessons learned through our close collaboration with TSA over the last 20 years, further reinforcing the safety and security culture we have today.

As we look toward the next 20 years of partnership with TSA and our aviation security partners, we are continually reminded that our work to provide for the health, safety, and security of the traveling public and airport workers will never be finished.

Looking Forward One Year In

By Kevin M. Burke, President and CEO, ACI-NA

Now at the one-year milestone of widespread travel and local restrictions to help stop the spread of COVID-19, we are reminded that this past year has been incredibly challenging for so many, both personally and professionally.  While so much has changed in our industry as we continue to respond to this prolonged crisis, airports remain fully committed to ensuring the health, safety and security of the traveling public and airport workers.

Although North American airports quickly mobilized to protect travelers and workers, the significant drop in passenger traffic has wiped out record growth in air travel and decimated the airport industry’s financial outlook. In 2019, more than 1.9 billion people traveled through North American airports.  At the start the pandemic, air travel dropped by upwards of 95 percent.  ACI-NA estimates that the pandemic will cost U.S. airports more than $40 billion and Canadian airports more than $5.5 billion — a number that will only grow if the pandemic drags on.

There is no shortage of issues confronting the industry.  Early in the pandemic, ACI-NA created the Airport Industry Recovery Advisory Panel to provide the industry with valuable recommendations on immediate term, medium term and long-term measures to address the public health concerns and assist airports coming out of the pandemic.

These initiatives, ranging from restoring confidence in air travel to implementing a wide variety of mitigation strategies, are fostering a completely new level of collaboration across aviation industry stakeholders.  We each have a role to play, and the value of partnership has never been more important. As we think about the future, airports leaders should remain cognizant of the ever-evolving airport business model.  Our ongoing relationships with airline partners, concessionaires, retailers, service providers, and government regulators are essential to our continued success.

ACI-NA led the charge in an effort secure $20 billion in immediate financial relief for the U.S. airport industry.  We are immensely grateful from the strong support of the U.S. government for airports and their concession partners as they remain open and fully operational though this crisis.

Thanks to the proactive leadership of our team in Ottawa, Canada’s airports received some of the only sector specific COVID support in Canada, with some CAD $1.4 billion through ground rent waivers and deferrals, wage subsidy, and infrastructure funding.  However, as the situation in Canada grows more dire each day, our work continues in Canada to secure addition relief to meaningfully address the financial challenges Canada’s airports face.

One of the silver linings to come out of this pandemic is the rapid innovation and the deployment of new technologies to allow for a seamless – and contactless – passenger experience.  While most of this progress had seemed years away, the pandemic has accelerated this effort to turn our industry’s aspirations into reality.  One thing is clear: the passenger experience will look different than it did before. It is going to be better.

Airports have taken unprecedented actions to limit the spread of COVID-19.  As the eternal optimist, I am confident there is a light at the end of the tunnel and much to be done when we emerge from it. From enhancing airport sustainability and resiliency to taking full advantage of automation and big data to enabling a new generation of aircraft to operate at our airports, we face myriad opportunities to make a difference in the aviation industry. All of these opportunities require a ready and able workforce. We look forward to working with the industry to develop training that will help current airport workers adapt as well as prepare the next generation to make their mark on aviation.

Thank you for the continued trust you place in ACI-NA and the immensely talented team here at your trade association.  I continue to be proud of our team, our members, and the important work we do on behalf of North American airports.