5 Major Changes Outlined in the USDOT’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – How Your Airport Can Be Better Prepared

By: Erin Westerman, Marketing Manager, B2Gnow


The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) will help improve and modernize Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) programs. However, the steps involved for affected organizations will be complex. With change on the horizon, many airports wonder how their programs will internally support these pending requirements. Will they have the staff, resources, and tools needed to manage the proposed changes?

As your organization begins strategizing about future compliance, we’ve identified five of the most challenging requirements airports may face and suggestions on actions to take now to prepare.

  1. Prompt payment and Retainage – How well equipped is your staff to monitor and track the proposed prompt payment and retainage compliance revisions? Time to get your ducks in a row.
    As stated in the NPRM, your DBE program must take affirmative steps to monitor and enforce prompt payment and retainage requirements. To stress the importance, they propose including an additional paragraph stating that the conditions within this rule are intended to flow down to all lower-tier subcontractors. Reliance on complaints or notifications from subcontractors about a prime’s failure to comply with prompt payment and retainage requirements will no longer cut it. Does your airport have a plan to take affirmative steps to monitor prompt payment, as stated in § 26.29? Organizations using B2Gnow’s Contract Compliance Module have no worries! The system is already tracking goal compliance based on payment amounts to primes and subs and payment dates. Payments are reported and electronically confirmed for amount, date received, and promptness. It also enables contractors to easily report retainage as outstanding or paid. B2gnow’s tracking and reporting power puts all this information at your fingertips to ensure your subcontractor community is paid in full and on time.

    2. Uniform Report – This report is already known to be time-consuming and comprehensive, and given the new proposed requirements, will your airport be equipped to collect and track this new required data?
    The Uniform report, consisting of DBE utilization data, is submitted annually to the OA(s) that provide funding to them.  The NPRM seeks to revise the Uniform Report to include additional data that would assist the OAs and the Department with evaluating whether the DBE Program is progressing toward meeting its stated objectives. This expanded data collection could include additional fields for contract numbers, NAICS codes, and DBEs decertified during the reporting period, just to name a few. While there is no standard software to handle the Uniform Report’s requirements, more than 400 organizations, including more than half of all DOTs, and hundreds of transportation and aviation authorities/organizations use B2Gnow to automate, manage and report on all required information. The proposed changes will have little effect on their current data collection and reporting processes. The proposed data is native to the B2Gnow database, which means these fields are already available for reporting, allowing them to easily produce all required information with little to no impact on staff.

    3. Bidders List – Does your airport have the staff or tools to efficiently obtain and enter bidders list data into a centralized database?
    In the NPRM, The Department proposes revising § 26.11(c) to require recipients to obtain and enter bidders list data into a centralized database the Department would specify. B2Gnow helps organizations to maintain, track and report on procurement information that may be required through this proposed change.  The B2Gnow system offers a variety of tools that help DBE programs to easily build and maintain bidders lists, including modules that manage proposals, utilization plans, outreach, contract compliance, and bid management. The more robust the system, the more data can be collected and reported on to be prepared for any change!

    4. ACDBE Small Business Program – Will your airport have the capacity to manage and report on this entirely new program?
    This proposed revision to the rule, as stated in the NPRM, will replicate the DBE program’s small business element requirements for the ACDBE program. Notably, this means it would require airports to take steps to eliminate obstacles for participation by smaller ACDBEs and submit annual reports on their small business elements. While this may seem burdensome, B2Gnow already supports hundreds of organizations to seamlessly manage and automate diversity certification processes and electronically compile complex reports with the click of a button. Additionally, the B2Gnow staff have years of combined experience with the B2Gnow system and working in the industry. Many have helped implement such programs and deeply understand the complexities involved.

    5. Timely Processing of Certification Applications – Is your airport prepared to handle the complex certification process with more stringent deadlines?
    The NPRM proposes limiting a certifier’s ability to extend the 90-day timeframe during which a certifier must issue a final eligibility decision for instate certification applications. Current § 26.83(k) states that a certifier may extend the 90-day period by an additional 60 days. Their proposal would reduce the extension period from 60 days to 30 days. B2Gnow can help eliminate the need for extensions by reducing the time it takes to process an application. The Online Application Module allows vendors to submit certification applications electronically online. It eliminates paper submissions and creates efficiency, reducing the review time and ensuring that only complete applications are received. It also reduces firms’ time, effort, and expense to apply for certification and allows for the secure submission of sensitive information and documents. In addition, the B2Gnow Certification Management module provides immediate visibility into the status of all pending applications, enables the tracking of processing times, including granular “review-step” levels, and provides a complete detailed audit trail of all actions completed by staff during the review process.

While the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) will help modernize and improve the Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) programs, affected organizations will be required to make some complex changes to their current processes.  There has never been a better time for airports to take their business diversity programs digital. B2Gnow Supplier Diversity Software has your airport covered for all current, proposed, and future DBE and ACDBE regulation updates. B2Gnow is trusted by over 400 state, local and educational organizations – including more than 30 US airports. Contact us to speak with an expert and learn more about B2Gnow Supplier Diversity Software. 

Erin Westerman has worked in the cloud-based software industry for more than 14 years, gaining experience in both sales and marketing of enterprise solutions. Erin is currently Marketing Manager at B2Gnow, the nation’s leading supplier diversity management (AC/DBE), grant and procurement software for more than 400 state, local, and educational organizations.





This article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.


ACI-NA submitted extensive comments to DOT regarding the proposals in the NPRM. Please click here to read ACI-NA’s comments.

Airports Council Associate Member Involvement Drives Collaboration and Learning

ACI-NA’s mission is to serve as the Voice of Airports® in Washington and Ottawa and be a fierce advocate for airport industry priorities.  We owe our success to the many members across the industry who have contributed their time, talent, and expertise to helping us navigate the challenges we have confronted for nearly three years.

To help airports coalesce around these challenges and exchange best practices, we have resumed our full slate of in-person meetings and conferences.  We are proud of our reputation as an industry resource for valuable learning and exchange.  Bringing our conferences back post-pandemic has been a full team effort. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted air travel, it has also impacted the way we present conferences and other professional development opportunities.  As such, we are excited about the launch of our U.S. Airport Professional program as an online learning resource for those seeking to expand their knowledge about strategic leadership within the industry.



Additionally, the participation of our World Business Partner (WBP) and Associate Members has never been more important.  Our WBP and Associate members bring best-in-class knowledge and expertise to complex challenges. We are grateful for an active WBP and Associates Board of Directors and for the associate members who are active within our committees.

ACI‐NA WBP and Associate members represent the wide variety of private industry businesses that provide products, equipment and services to airports and the aviation industry. Through this program, ACI‐NA World Business Partners and Associate members work with ACI‐NA Airport members to address industry issues and discuss new technologies and innovative ideas.

We are currently accepting nominations for our WBP/Associates Board of Directors.  If you are interested in applying, please contact vgerson@airportscouncil.org for more information.

We appreciate the time, energy, and dedication which our airport and associate members brought to the table.  It has helped ensure that the association will continue to strengthen the ability of airports in North America to serve their passengers, customers, and communities in the years ahead.

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) Celebrating 15th Anniversary with Allegiant Air!

By Tom Jewsbury, Airport Director, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE)

Fifteen years has flown by, literally, with Allegiant! In September 2006, PIE announced a new airline was coming to town with 12 non-stop, low-cost destinations! Allegiant made headlines with its 12-hour $12 fare promotion and PIE began a new chapter of setting passenger records.

Today, PIE is Allegiant’s 2nd biggest airport in the 130 plus it serves. With 59 non-stop destinations, Allegiant and St. Pete-Clearwater Int’l claim the most non-stops of all airlines in the Tampa Bay area. It launched with the idea to link small, underserved airports and create new affordable opportunities for families and friends to connect and vacation. The Result – PIE consistently ranks in the top 10 airports for lowest round-trip domestic airfare; in 2020, PIE ranked #7 with $107.16 compared to the national average round-trip airfare of $292.20 (US Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics). Together, PIE and Allegiant’s value and convenience, created a loyal passenger base and boosted our tourism economy.

“Allegiant has been the gateway to visiting my daughter and now grandchildren for the past decade. With nonstop flights from Allentown to St. Pete-Clearwater, it’s made visiting an absolute breeze! We loved St. Pete so much we decided to visit permanently in 2020!” shared Allegiant passenger Rosanne Totzke.

The first flights launched on November 16, 2006 included Allentown, PA; Rockford, IL; and Peoria, IL; and year after year, new destinations have been added. Our strong growth in passengers reflects the rise in new destinations; Since Allegiant’s first full year (2007) to 2019 (last pre pandemic calendar year), Allegiant passengers increased by over 200% at PIE!

“St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is a terrific partner and a wonderful example of the many benefits a locally-focused, easy-to-access airport brings to leisure travelers,” said Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr., Allegiant’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Unlike other carriers, Allegiant is 100 percent focused on providing access to affordable, convenient nonstop flights that make vacations possible. Our growth and success at PIE over 15 years is testament to a partnership that helps us keep fares low, at a friendly location our customers love.”

Allegiant has celebrated our collective success along the way with some exciting giveaways and community contributions! Participating in school field trip tours and an aviation careers video, Southeastern Guide Dog Puppy Training Tours, hurricane donation drives, Big Brothers Big Sisters Workplace Mentoring program, Make-A-Wish travel packages, dedicated Veterans Honor Flight charters, Allegiant makes a difference in our community.

“PIE is fortunate to have a strong partnership with Allegiant and look forward to continued growth. Tampa Bay travel opportunities were transformed when Allegiant launched in St. Pete-Clearwater. Our improvements and growth are tied to their investment in our region.” Tom Jewsbury, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport Director.

Leveraging Brand Values to Win back Customer Confidence

By Roel Huinink, President & CEO, JFKIAT

At JFKIAT our T4 is MORE culture is driven by our greatest asset, our people and community. However, as an air terminal with 12,000 employees and numerous stakeholders, sustaining a customer-centric culture is an ongoing effort. Together with our partners at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), we align our T4 is MORE customer experience program with their WE SOAR program to create a consistent and holistic customer-centric culture. Over time, this strong cultural foundation has allowed us to be resilient, persevere, and win back customer confidence.

“MORE” or “Making Outstanding Rewarding Experiences,” is delivered by thoughtfully acting on our brand values that each employee wears on their lanyard: Be Happy and Friendly, Be Informative, Be Safe and Be Memorable and are directly aligned with our efforts to win back customer confidence in air travel.

Be Happy and Be Friendly

It’s been said that happy employees create happy customers, and we agree. Although it would have been easy to cancel the 2020 Employee Appreciation Day event due to the pandemic, we decided to move on with this beloved event to create cheer and show empathy and appreciation when it was most needed.

Creating a community culture is key, especially in the midst of a pandemic. We approach our stakeholders, service providers and airline customers as partners in our shared success and ask for their collaboration and feedback at all levels. After implementing our initial COVID-19 response and recovery initiatives, we actively surveyed our airline customers to measure effectiveness and gain improvement insights.

Be Informative

Being informative is at the core of what we do, and customers are quick to ask any one of our employees a question. This year we transformed our traditional T4 is MORE classroom training to a new interactive and gamified web-based training. From the beginning of the pandemic we have consistently communicated with employees via our online T4 Safe Travel Resource Center, T4 is MORE email newsletter, and virtual T4 community meetings.

Be Safe

Safety is our highest priority and creating a safe environment that wins back customer confidence depends on our employees’ behaviors and actions. For example, we have methodically increased our deep cleaning routines throughout the terminal using anti-viral solutions and electrostatic cleaning in high touch areas. Optics are critical to building customer confidence and our cleaning employees are highly visible.

Throughout the pandemic, JFKIAT’s Health and Wellness pilot program has tested Thermo Temperature platforms from FLIR, Thales, and Omnisense. We are now testing the Health Pass by CLEAR thermal temperature screening platform. We also continue to closely collaborate with the PANYNJ and all of our stakeholders, including the CDC and the New York State Department of Health, to support them in their efforts to create a safe environment.

Be Memorable

As part of our larger COVID-19 response and recovery initiatives, we developed a communications strategy to generate awareness, educate and inform both employees and customers of what to expect and what is required of them to keep everyone safe.

Rather than implementing the standard institutional instructional strategy, we developed and executed S.M.I.L.E at T4. This multichannel digital and print campaign personifies the ‘Be Memorable’ brand value, and brings positivity while informing and educating.

Although this a small sample of what we’ve done here at T4 to successfully leverage our brand values to win back customer confidence, we hope that you can apply this learning to increase customer confidence and regain business.

The Importance of Employee Resilience

By Roel Huinink, President & CEO, JFKIAT

This past year has disrupted and accelerated the pace of change in people, processes, place and technology across all aspects of the aviation industry. Although we are faced with daily uncertainty, we continue to be flexible, collaborate, share and explore new ways to adapt to the new normal of air travel.

After nearly a year of pandemic operations, it’s become clear that this accelerated pace of transformative change we’ve experienced in 2020 will remain with us for the foreseeable future. A term we have heard industry leaders use throughout the pandemic is resilience – the ability to recover quickly from difficult situations. Based on what we’ve learned at JFKIAT, resilience is just as important to reinforce within an organization’s culture as is crisis response to a global pandemic.

We have prioritized the health and safety of our employees throughout the crisis and as a result, we have a strong culture of unity and placed that first and foremost during this crisis.  We have not only persevered, but have also witnessed our community and partners go above and beyond to ensure a safe and secure environment to win back customer confidence. Thanks to our experiences, we encourage and believe deeply the value of building and maintaining a resilient employee culture.

Ensure safety and provide reassurance within the workplace

As essential workers, our employees at T4 have been on the front lines throughout the crisis. For many, this crisis began long before the U.S. response was widespread. Back in January 2020, due to CDC recommendations, our teams were meeting Wuhan flights alongside our government partners. We remained the only terminal at JFK operating 24/7 throughout the entire pandemic, and even as we saw decreases in flight and passenger traffic, our employees continued to come to work every day for 12 hour shifts to maintain separated workforces for social distancing.

In the early months of the pandemic, our team developed a multi-faceted, comprehensive response and recovery campaign to ensure the safety and wellbeing of customers and employees. To keep employees safe, we stockpiled PPE to ensure that our staff had the proper protective gear to perform their work, conducted numerous temperature check pilots for passengers and employees, and worked with XpresCheck to launch the country’s first COVID-19 testing facility at an air terminal to make testing conveniently available for our employees and travelers right in the arrivals hall at T4.

Reinforce your mission

A recent ACI study found that 80% of respondents were confident that airports and airlines are providing a safe environment.  Still, we have more work to do to demonstrate that airports are taking the right safety measures to restore customer confidence.

At JFKIAT, a cornerstone of our mission is to provide the highest levels of safety and security, and we have worked very hard to incorporate that mission into every aspect of our culture at T4. Reinforcing that mission became a critical aspect of our efforts to keep T4 safe throughout the pandemic.

Our core values became even more important as our employees implemented enhanced cleaning processes, followed new social distancing procedures, and worked to relieve customers’ anxiety during their travels. Reinforcing your core “why” is important to keep employees, and leaders alike, focused on what really matters – especially in times of crisis.

Express gratitude and appreciation

Keeping our employees and partners informed and connected was essential to our efforts as we dealt with the pandemic’s impacts, and in every communication, we let them know how grateful we were for their contributions to the T4 community. We launched a social media series, Heroes of T4, to spotlight our employees’ exceptional work, launched an employee “thank you” video within the first few months of the crisis, and hosted an Employee Appreciation Day over the summer to express our thanks for their dedication. Continually communicating gratitude to our staff has helped us to boost morale and maintain a positive environment at T4.

We recognized every aspect of this pandemic and response was not easy for most. Our industry and employees will be changed forever. If we have made a positive impact on our community to ensure they know we support their safety, security, health and well-being first and foremost goes a long way – and is the single most important aspect to restore customer confidence.  We care about every single person that walks through our doors and we prove that every day. As we look to the future, I believe that resilience within an organization’s culture will be critical as the aviation industry continues to transform.

Mask Over Matter: Communicating in the Age of the Mask

By Lise D’Andrea, CXE

So, here we are, facing our new reality behind a mask. Since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the use of cloth masks or face covering in early April to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we have been struggling with our new normal of trying to talk, listen and breathe behind masks. Compounded by physical distancing, from the boardroom to the frontline we find ourselves in uncharted customer experience territory.

In many countries around the globe, face coverings and masks are usually only worn by healthcare professionals or for religious or cultural observances. Overnight, this changed. While a seemingly simply and small shift, the impacts on how we communicate are profound. For those not used to wearing a face covering, many find it hard to breathe and talk, that words appear muffled, and that to be heard you have to almost yell.

Beyond words, human beings have long relied on reading entire facial expressions to reduce misunderstandings and guide interactions. The eyes and mouth provide some of the greatest clues to feelings and intent. Now, a smile that signifies a friendly hello and a chance to build understanding is covered. In the travel and hospitality industries, where the first step of customer service has always been to smile, we find ourselves having to rethink our approach.

A recent article by the BBC, “How face masks affect our communication,” shares that all is not lost. If we take cues from other cultures and professions accustomed to masks and face covering and amplify our body language, we can continue to create positive and meaningful connections with customers and coworkers.

While there are several ways to overcome the barriers of masks, these five techniques can quickly place you on the path to overcoming the “mask challenge”:

Eye Contact: Eye contact is the go-to means to make a connection with people. Continually scan to make eye contact with others around you to create connections and help proactively spot the needs of others.

Eye Gestures: It is possible to say a lot without saying anything at all – especially with your eyes. Gestures made with eyebrows, eye lids and overall eye movements can help customers better understand you, and you them.

Head and Facial Gestures: Although your face is covered, you can still support your voice with gestures using your head and face. For example, a tilted head for questions and “smiling” eyes can help deliver your message.

Hand Gestures: Hand gestures can be the megaphone for communication tactics. From a thumbs up to a wave, hand gestures help to clearly reinforce verbal and nonverbal communication.

Active Listening skills: Active listening skills are vital when you are masked, and facial and verbal cues are limited. Nodding and leaning-in show that you are listening.

In this new age of social distance, customer experience dynamics are evolving. Honing your communication skills can lead to increased confidence, stronger customer and coworker relationships, and less frustration and disappointment. As we navigate our new normal for customer and employee experiences, an innovative reality will redefine how we communicate, connect, and carry on to chart a new course towards customer experience excellence.

Lise D’Andrea is the Founder and CEO of CXE (formerly Customer Service Experts), an organization that specializes in helping airports, hospitality, food and beverage, retail, business, and government clients to define and deliver innovative and successful customer (CX) and employee experience (EX) programs. Harnessing over 25 years of experience developing customer and employee experience strategies, CXE has developed a practical eBook guide, “Mask Over Matter,” to help businesses quickly adjust to a society where mask wearing is prevalent. In August, CXE also plans to release an employee-centric, interactive, web-based training designed to acclimate employees to the new post-pandemic workplace and help them continue to make meaningful connections with customers.

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.

HAS Continues to Prepare Veterans for Airport Jobs During Coronavirus Crisis

While airport terminals remain quiet because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) health pandemic, airports remain open and operational as essential and critical infrastructure.  Airports might not be welcoming as many passengers these days, but they are still serving local communities by facilitating the movement of health care workers and life saving medical supplies.  Airports also play an increasingly important role in the food supply chain to keep grocery shelves stocked for families.

This vital work is only made possible through the hard work and resolve of essential frontline airport workers.  We applaud their dedication to their communities.  These are the kinds of jobs that can’t be don’t from home.

Because airports continue to operate – and will once again become thriving hubs of activity when travel resumes – they can’t miss a beat in having the right workers in place at the right time.  But how are airports recruiting new workers in an era of social distancing?

Thanks to a proactive approach by the human resources department at Houston Airports System (HAS) to use technology in a creative way, the airport continues its work with Edge4Vets to help military veterans prepare for a career at the airport.  Edge4Vets, a program of the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University in New York and supported by Airports Council International – North America and University Aviation Association, is a powerful jobs training program to prepare and connect veterans to jobs that can lead to careers in aviation.

As part of their continuing recruiting process, HAS had planned to offer another in-person workshop training program on April 2 to military veterans. 40 veterans, including Aaron Unpingco, had registered to participate in the workshop.  Through their participation, the veterans would have received personal support from business mentors to identify their strengths from the military, including values and skills, and explore ways to match their skills and interests to airport job openings with HAS and employer partners, including airlines, concessions, security and more.

Once social distancing became the norm because of COVID-19, HAS opted to reconsider its approach and chose to offer the Edge4Vets workshop as an online program instead of cancelling it.  This preserved momentum the program had generated over the past three years to promote veteran employment and keep the pipeline for training military veterans for airport jobs moving forward until better days can come.

Edge4Vets had recently completed putting its full training curriculum into an online platform as a complement to its popular workshop series. The online course gives veterans an opportunity to work through the process to translate their military skills into civilian life at their own pace and learn through a series of videos and exercises how to create a four-part PLAN4SUCCESS for an edge with HR recruiters to get hired.

“Aaron Unpingco had great experience as a platoon leader in the army,” said Tom Murphy, founder of Edge4Vets. “The PLAN4SUCCESS he created using our online training not only showed his strong management skills but also demonstrated how his experience in IT and business administration qualified him for an administrative role at the airport. The HAS recruitment team recognized his potential immediately and suggested several jobs that could fit him.”

To help him match his skills and interests to potential jobs, Edge4Vets enlisted Goodwill industries of Houston to provide follow up support to vets who take the online course. Edge4Vets refers participants to Goodwill after they complete the course and helps them identify potential jobs not only with the airport authority, but with airlines and service companies that participate as program partners.


Aaron Unpingco, a platoon leader in Afghanistan, created a PLAN4SUCCESS and earned his Edge4Vets Certificate using Houston Airports System’s creative approach to taking the Edge4Vets jobs prep program online during the coronavirus health pandemic this spring.

Other airports participating with ACI-NA and local veterans groups in their communities in the Edge4Vets program are looking at applying Houston Airports System’s leadership approach with the online model to their airports.

“I want to be ready,” Unpingco said. “I don’t want to lose this down time during this virus crisis. I want to prepare for a job that can open the world for me.”

LAWA Serves Veterans Through Edge4Vets Successes

Over the last few years, ACI-NA has been proud to partner with Edge4Vets to help connect veterans with airports across North America to place them in careers that utilize the valuable skills they learned while serving in the military.  Ahead of Armed Forces Day on May 18, ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke caught up with Los Angeles World Airports Director of Airports Administration Paula Adams to hear about LAWA’s work to support the veterans’ workforce in the Los Angeles area.

KB: Los Angeles World Airports has been an incredible supporter of the Egde4Vets program.  Why is the program important and how you have developed it to serve veterans and your airport?

PA: One of LAWA’s strategic goals is to expect and support organizational excellence. Edge4Vets helps us meet that goal. We see the value that veterans bring to an airport environment and we are a better organization because of the 53 veterans who work with us across all divisions and levels of our team.

Being able to have someone join our airport system that knows how to work under pressure, who can meet deadlines, work as part of a team, and knows how to manage time is every hiring manager’s dream. These qualities are even more in demand at a large airport, and we know that in the right job, these veterans find wonderful opportunities to put their skills to good use.

Whether it’s with LAWA or one of our partners (e.g., airlines, concessions, retail, cargo), Edge4Vets provides veterans a unique opportunity to meet hiring managers face-to-face, which in today’s job market, is a powerful alternative to the now normal point-and-click path to an interview. In return, companies can learn more about how they can benefit from the skills that veterans bring to the table and may find new ways to bring those who have served our country into a new career.


KB: What successes stories have you experienced through the Edge4Vets program?

PA: The Edge4Vets program allowed us to make connections that might not have been made were it not for the format of the program. Edge4Vets allows a wide variety of airport companies to connect with individuals and learn about them within the context of their life as a civilian and a service member, and support them on a path to a living wage career. We have had a number of Edge4Vets participants who are now employed at LAX, and our hiring partners have been satisfied with the results. LAWA has found similar success in our hiring of Edge4Vets participants and we continue to seek out additional employees. In fact, just this week, LAWA made two provisional job offers to veterans who participated in the May 15 workshop. At that workshop, other airport companies who were there set up interviews with several veterans.

Further, at our most recent event, we heard from one veteran who highlighted “listening” as one of his key skills. After a little discussion and insight from the participating mentoring managers, the veteran elaborated that he was responsible for clearing landmines, which requires someone to have a large amount of self-restraint and ability to quietly listen. As an HR professional, I hear that story and think, “Here’s a person who is going to assess a situation based on what he knows before he acts.” He understands that there are costs to doing something wrong way, and is mindful enough to realize it. That’s a skillset that we can use.


KB: In the airport industry, collaboration between airports and their business and community partners is essential.  How is Edge4Vets helping LAWA strengthen existing relationships and building new ones?

PA: The Edge4Vets workshop’s real strength is connecting people. It fosters an environment for collaboration, not only between veterans and airport hiring managers, but also between LAWA and our airport partners, including companies that operate at LAX and nonprofit groups throughout the region. Initiatives like Edge4Vets allow us to broaden our reach to people who may not have previously had the opportunity to consider a career at LAX, and include them as part of our airport community.

KB: If an airport were thinking about rolling out their own Edge4Vets program, what piece of advice would you give them?

PA: Reach out to your local nonprofit groups who support your veteran community and partner with them to funnel qualified veterans seeking employment to your event. Then, do it! Edge4Vets is a wonderful program and provides a benefit for all involved – the airport, our partners and veterans seeking careers. Our service men and women know what it’s like working for a team and all of our airport communities can benefit by adding them to our teams.


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 LAX, HOU, MIA, JFK 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.

Cheers to 2018: ACI-NA’s Year in Review


Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) strives to advocate for policies and provide services that strengthen the ability of commercial airports to serve their passengers, customers and communities.


2018 has been a busy year. But, it has also been a productive year for our organization as we work to ensure that North American airports operating safely and efficiently. Here are a few highlights from this year.


  • Our newest Economic Impact Study found that U.S. commercial airports are responsible for 11.5 million jobs with a payroll of more than $428 billion. To break that down, the total economic output of U.S. commercial airports exceeds $1.4 trillion — more than 7% of our nation’s GDP.
  • The Canadian Airports Council (CAC) conducted a similar study that found that Canada’s airports provide 194,000 direct jobs, $19 billion to the national GDP and $48 billion in direct economic activity.
  • According to the latest North American Traffic report, passenger traffic grew by nearly 4 percent and cargo traffic increased 7 percent in 2017.
  • These numbers help us make the case in Washington that North America’s airports are indeed powerful economic engines.  In fact, the Beyond the Runway Coalition has grown to nearly 100 members in construction, food and beverage, retail, and tourism and other industries rely on airports to drive economic growth in their local communities.
  • A few months ago, we launched a new website that gives us a platform to better educate and engage with our members, policymakers and the traveling public.
  • In Canada, CAC is launching a multi-faceted marketing campaign to their member airports tell their unique stories to policymakers, industry stakeholders and passengers.
  • On the operations side, we worked with ACI World and staff from an array of airports worldwide, performed 8 Airport Excellence in Safety reviews across the US and Canada—the most of any ACI region.
  • We assisted our member airports in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia in coordinating preparation and immediate recovery from Hurricanes Florence and Michael.
  • Maintaining the safety and security of the traveling public is a top concern for airports. The PS&S Committee continues to participate on the Aviation Security Advisory Committee, providing the TSA Administrator recommendations to mitigate potential insider threats while preserving operational flexibility.
  • Airports in the United States and Canada continue to work with ACI-NA and CAC to better facilitate transnational travel and trade through programs like pre-clearance.
  • The Risk Management Committee has completed a document to help airport risk management units manage contractual insurance compliance.
  • The Air Service committee, which was formed in 2018, has created a work plan for 2019 and has formed four task forces that will be recruiting participants in early 2019. The committee has already taken an active role in planning for JumpStart 2019 in Nashville.
  • International Air Service Program continues to support the ACI World Expert Group on Slots and the effort to create a level playing field for airports in the global allocation of scarce airport capacity. The effort is showing promise with negotiations between ACI and IATA continuing.
  • The Facilitation committee held two best practice tours jointly with the Airlines for America (A4A) Passenger Facilitation Council in 2018, visiting new biometric entry and exit installations at Miami, Orlando and San Diego.
  • The TNC Operations and Related Airport Revenues Working Group is addressing new and evolving issues with TNCs, peer-to-peer car sharing, and the potential deployment of autonomous vehicles.
  • The Human Resource Committee is strengthening their efforts on a variety of programs to develop talent pipelines and future leaders within airports. The Workforce Planning Working Group had identified three focus areas for the committee: Executive Leadership Exchange Program (ELEP), Multi-generational Workforce and an airport career awareness campaign.
  • The Edge4Vets program is continuing to work in partnership with ACI-NA to prepare and adapt the military skills of returning veterans to the civilian airport industry while also creating a related “employer network” of airport stakeholders and partners.
  • The Associates Board has remained engaged in the work ACI-NA is doing. I am pleased to report that 20 candidates put their names forward for the 3 vacancies that were open on the board.


With 2019 on the horizon, we want to keep this momentum going. After all, ACI-NA is only as strong as its members and their active engagement. We look forward to working with you in the New Year.


Happy Holidays!


Kevin Burke

President and CEO