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.

Edge4Vets and ACI-NA Expand Online Training to Accelerate Veterans into Airport Workforce

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

Edge4Vets will expand its veteran employment training program offered in partnership with ACI-NA in the spring of 2022 to give a broad array of airports in the U.S. and Canada an opportunity to accelerate veterans into their workforce over the next few years as airports build back talent and the industry continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Edge4Vets model of PREP and CONNECT proved effective when it was offered in-person at six airports prior to the pandemic. This fall, the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University, which offers Edge4Vets, will roll out its online training product to several ACI-NA member airports in order to lay the foundation for the online approach over the next few years.

The Houston Airport System (HAS) recently served as a successful test case for the online program. Thirty-five veterans participated in the online course. The online model consists of two ZOOM sessions and an online course veterans may take at their own pace to learn how to translate their military strengths and create a personal PLAN4SUCCESS. Edge4Vets also worked with HAS to set up a recruitment program that included outreach to veterans in the Houston community, as well as enlistment of schools with veterans studying on the GI Bill.

The online course will be offered in the spring of 2022 for HAS as well two to three additional airports to build a network of airports participating in the program. The goal is to grow the Edge4Vets system of PREP and CONNECT and offer the program to dozens of airports simultaneously over the next few years. Buffalo Niagara International Airport has committed to join HAS for the spring offering, and two other airports are currently exploring the procurement process. Beginning in the spring of 2022, Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University will work with Edge4Vets to publicize the training workshop series to its student and veterans studying aviation world-wide and give them an opportunity to connect to jobs at airports in the ACI-NA/Edge4Vets network.

Edge4Vets teaches veterans how to translate their military strengths into tools for civilian success, and then connects them with human resources professionals at participating airports to learn about career opportunities. They watch videos, do exercises and create a personal PLAN4SUCCESS with statements in four areas: Vision, Values, Skills and an Action Plan.

For more information on Edge4Vets and the online training system of PREP and CONNECT, please visit Edge4Vets.org.

To learn more about how your airport can participate in the expansion of this program, please contact Nancy Zimini, ACI-NA’s Chief Administration and Operations Officer at NZimini@airportscouncil.org.

ACI-NA Joins Collaboration to Honor Aviation Heroes of 9/11

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

The airport industry is no stranger to adversity. We have faced many challenges over the years, though none can stand against September 11, 2001 and the COVID-19 pandemic. These crises, nearly two decades apart, represent the greatest disruptions aviation has ever seen. However, resilience is the hallmark of the airport industry. We always respond, no matter the challenge and that spirit will never give way to defeat.

The 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001 is drawing near at a time when the airport industry is moving steps forward on the path to recovery from COVID-19. This presents an opportunity to reflect on the obstacles that resulted from September 11th, learn and apply those principles to the existing crisis.

Fordham University’s Human Resiliency Institute is working in partnership with other aviation industry organizations, including ACI-NA, to give today’s aviation workers and students an opportunity to learn resiliency lessons from September 11th’s aviation heroes.

The project, Reclaiming the Sky Resiliency Essay Competition, will be part of a tribute to aviation workers on the 20th Anniversary of September 11th later this year. This project draws on the courageous stories of airport and airline workers in Boston, New Jersey, New York, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, PA, profiled in Tom Murphy’s book, Reclaiming the Sky: 9/11 and the Untold Story of the Men and Women Who Kept America Flying.

The essay competition will kick off on Wednesday, April 21 with a webinar featuring representatives from several organizations and others in aviation to collaboratively put a focus on the courage of aviation workers on September 11th and make “Never Forget” into an action statement.

In addition, ACI-NA’s Human Resources Committee will assist in leading an awareness campaign at its member airports to promote this project.

The essay competition is divided into three categories: Airport Workers, Airline Employees (including flight attendants and pilots,) and Students. The award in the Airport category will be named for the late Susan Baer, former General Manager of Newark Liberty International Airport on September 11, 2001 where Flight 93 departed. The Airline category will be named for Ken and Jennifer Lewis, husband and wife flight attendants who perished on Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon. The Student category will named for Marianne MacFarlane and Jesus Sanchez, two United Airlines agents at Boston Logan International Airport who perished on Flight 175 that crashed into the South Tower. Honorable Mention awards will be named for Betty Ong, the American Airlines flight attendant who called in from Flight 11 to report the hijackers. Awards of $1000 will be presented for each category.

Essays will be accepted online at reclaimingthesky.com until Tuesday, August 10. The announcement of the winners will be made in early September as part of the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001.

For full details on the project, and to register, please visit reclaimingthesky.com. Program details can also be seen in a video clip here.

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.

 

Americans Are Starting to Fly Again

States around the country are taking their first steps to safely reopen our economy and to start rebuilding a sense of normal life. This Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer in North America — a well-deserved benchmark that we’ve made it through a difficult start of this year. This typically marks the beginning of our busy travel season, and while COVID-19 has quieted the typical buzz in our airport terminals and dramatically reduced the crowds, we are finally seeing an uptick in passengers who want to travel again.

Despite the challenges we still face, the Transportation Security Administration expects more than 350,000 people to travel through our airports this Memorial Day weekend. That is a far cry from the 2.7 million air travelers who passed through our airports last Memorial Day weekend, but it nearly doubles our traffic from weeks prior. Airports welcome these early signs of a rebound, and they are ready to help passengers navigate the new normal as we work to adapt to the future of travel together. If you’re traveling this Memorial Day weekend, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Arrive early: Airports around the U.S. have enhanced safety standards and measures for all passengers. This could mean more delays as you travel through security checkpoints. Be sure to arrive early so you are able to make it to your gate and flight on time.
  • Adhere to physical distancing: Remember to keep your physical distance (6 feet) when going through checkpoints, shopping at concessions shops, or standing in line at customer service. By keeping your distance, you can help stop the spread of germs and keep you and others in your party healthy.
  • Wear a facial covering: Many states and local governments as well as airlines are requiring that masks be worn when occupying a public space. Please be sure to bring a facial covering with you to the airport and wear it throughout your duration there. For facial coverings to be worn properly they must cover your nose, mouth, and chin.
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds throughout your time while traveling. Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue away in a trash bin. Avoid touching your face.
  • Be patient: We are all learning these lessons together, so please understand that our dedicated workforce is doing everything in their power to adapt to these new requirements as quickly as possible to ensure the travel experience remains as seamless as it can be in the face of new health and safety guidelines.

As the nation continues to open up and more people begin to travel, implementing these best practices will help to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy. Our airports are eager to welcome you back.

Members of Congress Announce Framework for Infrastructure Bill That Includes a PFC Increase

Last week, ACI-NA welcomed the news of an infrastructure investment framework – called the “Moving Forward Framework” – which was announced by a group of Members of Congress, led by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR). The start of the new year represents an important opportunity for Members to announce their top policy priorities and we are pleased that improving airport infrastructure across the U.S. is a high priority for so many Members, as well as the American people.

The Moving Forward Framework calls for raising the federal cap on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) and indexing it for inflation. If enacted into law, a lift on local PFCs would allow airports to fund necessary infrastructure improvements, including repairing aging facilities and making expansions to accommodate record-breaking passenger traffic.

In his remarks, Chairman DeFazio highlighted how airports are in dire need of infrastructure upgrades and addressed the fact that the very same airlines who are comfortable with increasing baggage fees oppose an updated Passenger Facility Charge because they know it will increase airline competition in many airports. You can watch his remarks here.

Immediately following their announcement, ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke thanked the group, and specifically Chairman DeFazio, for their leadership.

“The House Democrats’ infrastructure framework recognizes the time has finally come to increase the woefully outdated PFC,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke. “A long-overdue adjustment to the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) will provide the lift America’s airports need to take off into the future. Unlike a $40 bag fee that just pads an airline’s bottom line, a modernized PFC will help our terminally challenged airports make transformative investments in new infrastructure that will improve the passenger experience for millions of travelers. I am particularly thankful for the leadership of Chairman DeFazio, the father of the PFC, for making this one of his top legislative priorities.”

Burke also joined American Association of Airport Executives President and CEO Todd Hauptli and Airport Consultant Council President T.J. Schultz in a joint letter thanking Chairman DeFazio for his leadership on this issue. In the letter they write:

“…we strongly support proposals in the House Democrats’ infrastructure framework that call for raising the federal cap on local PFCs and indexing it for inflation. We are grateful for your leadership. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues to advance legislation that would help airports finance critical projects and repair our nation’s infrastructure.”

Just this month independent research from RAND Corporation confirmed the best way to fix America’s airports is by modernizing the PFC. Further, according to a recent ACI-NA study, U.S. airports face more than $128 billion in infrastructure needs by 2023, with over 56 percent of the needs inside aging terminals. President Trump has repeatedly called for renewed investment in American airports, so we will be listening closely for any references to infrastructure investments in his State of the Union address.

We look forward to working closely with Congress to get this framework over the finish line so that we can finally empower airports to improve their infrastructure and continue to meet the demands of the traveling public.

Houston Airports Strengthen Veterans Community

As community partners, airports are continually embracing opportunities that recognize the immense contributions veterans make to our communities and empower them as they move beyond their military service.

Houston Airport System is one of several airports across North America leading the effort to bring the Edge4Vets jobs training program to prepare and connect veterans to jobs that can lead to careers in aviation.  This work is incredibly important in Texas, which boosts one of the largest veteran populations in the United States. Edge4Vets is part of Airports Council International – North America’s “Workforce of the Future” initiative.

Developed by the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University in New York, Edge4Vet is operating at several airports currently, including Houston, LAX, Greenville/Spartanburg, Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky, Edmonton, Memphis, Jackson, MS.

The program combines a workshop series with online training to help veterans do what business leaders say they most – that is, learn how to translate their strengths from the military, including values and skills, into “tools” for civilian success. The program enlists HR executives and hiring managers from partner companies, including airport authority departments and stakeholder companies, to attend the Edge4Vets workshop and serve as “mentors” to offer feedback to the veterans as Edge4Vets teaches the participants how to create a Plan4Success.

The Plan4Success guides them in the creation of statements in four areas – vision, values, skills and action – that identify their strengths and gives them an opportunity in clear, concise language to express how they will APPLY their military strengths to land a job that can lead to a career for the life they want.

Houston introduced Edge4Vets in 2018 as a pilot and now is working with partners in its employer network – that includes Houston businesses as well as airport employers – to grow and expand the scope and reach of the program.

Part of this expansion includes bringing in Goodwill Industries and its Operation GoodJOBS program as a partner to provide wrap-around support to veterans. Edge4Vets registers participants through a recruiting effort with support from the City of Houston, the Texas Veterans Commission and local schools, then Edge4Vets refers those who register to Goodwill for preparation in advance of the workshop.

Following the workshop, Edge4Vets channels participants back to Goodwill for personal support to refine their Plan4Success, hone their resume, and follow up on job interviews they lined up at the Edge4Vets workshop.

The combination of career preparation and this enhanced wrap-around support provided through the Edge4Vets/Goodwill partnership is giving Houston Airport System a powerful “one/two punch” to add talented veterans to the HAS workforce to strengthen the airport for the future.

Celebrating – and Growing – the Airport Industry Workforce

For some, Labor Day (or Labour Day for our readers in Canada) is a much needed long weekend culminating with a festive backyard cookout.  For others – our industry included – Labor Day weekend marks the end of another record breaking summer travel season.

At its core, Labor Day is a time to recognize the important contributions of a productive workforce to communities and economies. Today, we celebrate the nearly 1.5 million people working at airports across North America who make flight possible.

The aviation industry workforce extends far beyond pilots, flight attendants, and baggage handlers.  Airports are proud to employ innovative leaders from all of the disciplines found at a Fortune 500 company. From accounting to IT and real estate to business development, an airport represents a full ecosystem of professionals.

Managing a workforce as diverse and complex as that of an airport is tricky.  It might even be the biggest challenge of our time, says Candace McGraw, CEO of the Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) and Chair of ACI-NA.

“I think the issue of workforce development and talent development is a huge challenge to us all,” McGraw said.  “Historically, we in the airport business are focused on air service development, contracts and leasing, operations and planning for the future physical footprint of our spaces. As much as we focus on the infrastructure of the runways, taxiways, etc., I think we need to double-down on our human capital infrastructure.”

That’s why CVG launched a strategic workforce collaborative late last year.

“We have brought together all the airport employers, from the air cargo side to the passenger airlines and everyone in between, to talk about the issues on which we can collaborate today to achieve real results—exposing young people to careers in aviation, solving the ever-stubborn issue of better connecting people to their jobs, and creating aviation career pathways on airport, and more,” McGraw said.

One of the key components of CVG’s workforce initiative includes the inclusion of military veterans who will transition into the civilian workforce at the end of their service.  By including the successful Edge4Vets program into their initiative, CVG is able to tap into a highly skilled and trained talent pool.

In 2014, ACI-NA partnered with Edge4Vets with the shared goal of connecting veterans with airports to place them in careers that utilize the valuable skills they learned while serving in the military. At these workshops, Edge4Vets also teaches military veterans the skills they need to market their skills and themselves to civilian employers. Many veterans do not know how to search for civilian jobs and how to communicate with employers after they leave the military.

“Many veterans have valuable skills that are beneficial to employers, but they sometimes have difficulty selling themselves,” said Tom Murphy, Edge4Vets’ founder. “People serving in the military learn to work as a team and they sometimes don’t think in terms of their individual accomplishments and skillsets.”

While the Edge4Vets program continues to grow across the United States with several successes, the program recently launched in Canada.  Edmonton International Airport (YEG) hosted the nation’s first Edge4Vets workshop in May of this year.

“Edge4Vets is such a win-win program because it not only helps to expand the skilled workforce available to our aviation industry, it also provides rewarding careers to those who have served and protected our country,” says YEG’s President and CEO Tom Ruth.

The success of Edge4Vets speaks directly to the needs of airports as they plan their workforce for the future.  Ensuring airports have the right team with the right talents at the right times requires coordination and collaboration across the airport complex.

“Even if technology shifts the world of work for different types of jobs, we must have qualified, skilled people in all of our regions to support all the functions that thriving airports require,” McGraw said.” This is true for training the right people for leadership roles as much as it is to think about those front-line positions.”

Get Involved

Is your airport interested in becoming an Edge4Vets partner? Airports across North America are partnering with Edge4Vets and ACI-NA to help connect veterans to aviation careers. Current participants include GSP, LAX, HOU, MIA, JFK, CVG, YEG and more.

Contact Tom Murphy to learn more about hosting a workshop in your community. Edge4Vets is offered by the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University. Learn more here.

GSP Leads Efforts to Hire South Carolina Veterans

Independence Day is more than fireworks and cookouts.  It’s a special day we celebrate liberty and those who have helped secure the freedom we cherish today.

Honoring our veterans is a top priority for the airport industry.  That’s why ACI-NA partnered with Edge4Vets in 2014 with the shared goal of connecting America’s – and now Canada’s – veterans with airports across the country to place them in careers that utilize the valuable skills they learned while serving in the military.

Earlier this year, Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) collaborated with Edge4Vets and the Upstate Warrior Solution to host a workshop for the region’s veterans.

“We are proud to bring Edge4Vets to South Carolina,” said Dave Edwards, GSP’s president and CEO. “This will be a good opportunity for Upstate employers to identify talent while mentoring veterans transitioning into the workforce or those looking for new opportunities.”

Several companies participated in the workshop, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, United Airlines, the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, airport concessionaires and Clemson University.

“Many veterans have valuable skills that are beneficial to employers, but they sometimes have difficulty selling themselves,” said Tom Murphy, Edge4Vets’ founder. “People serving in the military learn to work as a team and they sometimes don’t think in terms of their individual accomplishments and skillsets. Some also become so accustomed to using the language and lingo used in the military that civilian employers might not understand what they are saying. These slight adjustments can make a difference in a veteran landing a job and getting on a desirable career path.”

Get Involved

Is your airport interested in becoming an Edge4Vets partner? Airports across North America are partnering with Edge4Vets and ACI-NA to help connect veterans to aviation careers. Current participants include GSP, LAX, HOU, MIA, JFK, CVG, and more.

Contact Tom Murphy to learn more about hosting a workshop in your community. Edge4Vets is offered by the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University. Learn more here.