ACI-NA Presents Downes Award to Arnold Thompson during Annual Conference

September 9, 2014


ATLANTA — Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) today announced that Arnold Thompson is the recipient of the 2014 William E. Downes Jr. Memorial Award. The Downes Award is presented by ACI-NA to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting the cause of airports and aviation throughout the local, national and worldwide communities. The award is the highest honor given by ACI-NA.

“ACI-NA is proud to honor Arnold Thompson during our Annual Conference and Exhibition as the recipient of the 2014 William E. Downes Jr. Award,” Kevin M. Burke, ACI-NA President and CEO, said. “His reputation as an effective  broker for both airport and airline interests set the standard for innovative, forward-thinking terminal planning at many of the nation’s most successful airports.  He helped create the foundation of the airport industry as we know it today, and he has proved an indispensable mentor and inspiration to many airport planners, engineers, and architects throughout a monumental career.”

Thompson, known by friends and colleagues as “Arnie,” founded the airport consulting firms Arnold Thompson Associates and Airport Facility Consultants.  He is widely regarded within the industry as the “father of modern airport terminal planning.”

Thompson gained diverse expertise in the aviation industry, starting his career as the Director of Facility Design and Chief Architect of American Airlines. Thompson moved on to found Arnold Thompson Associates in 1964 and Airport Facility Consultants in 1973.

Thompson’s consulting firms designed some of the largest and most innovative terminals, solving the issue of how new jumbo jetliners would be accommodated at airports. Some of Thompson’s most notable clients include Salt Lake City International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Oslo Airport.

In addition to his career highlights, Thompson was a founding member of the Airport Consultants Council, which was created to challenge shortfalls in FAA grant funding of master plans. The Arnold Thompson Charitable Trust, administered by the Airport Consultants Council, was similarly created to stimulate continuing interest in the aviation industry.

The award was presented on Sept. 9 in Atlanta, Georgia, during the 2014 ACI-NA Annual Conference and Exhibition.


About the William E. Downes Jr. Memorial Award

As ACI-NA’s most prestigious award, the “William E. Downes Jr. Memorial Award” is the namesake of Bill Downes, the former commissioner of aviation for the City of Chicago from 1959 to 1975.  The Downes award recognizes outstanding leadership and action in the cause of airport or aviation management.


About ACI-NA

Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) represents local, regional, and state governing bodies that own and operate commercial airports in the United States and Canada. ACI-NA member airports enplane more than 95 percent of the domestic and virtually all the international airline passenger and cargo traffic in North America. Approximately 380 aviation-related businesses are also members of ACI-NA, providing goods and services to airports. Collectively, U.S. airports support more than 11.5 million jobs and account for $1.4 trillion in economic activity – or more than seven percent of the total U.S. GDP. Canadian airports support 405,000 jobs and contribute C$35 billion to Canada’s GDP. Learn more at