A Desire to Move Forward

At San Antonio, redeveloping the terminal complex, customer service top the agenda

SAN ANTONIO — This spring 54-year old Frank R. Miller, A.A.E., was hired to head up the San Antonio airport system and oversee a $200 million terminal redevelopment program, among other projects. Recalling the interview process he experienced here he comments, “I sensed from them the desire to move forward with this project, get it done, and deal with customer service both during construction and as a long-term concern.” There are a host of projects underway at San Antonio International Airport besides the terminal, and the airport is in the midst of renegotiating its airline use and lease agreements and reassessing its other tenant leases. Comments Miller, “What I’m finding is there’s a lot to do here.”

The move to hire Miller followed an extended period of instability at the aviation director’s position, due to turnover. He explains, “What came across to me, recognizing that they hadn’t had an aviation person here at the airport in the number one position for quite some time, was that they wanted to get somebody with the experience in airports. I think the amount of construction experience I had with airports was something they were looking for as well.

“And it was clear to me during all of the various discussions and interviews I had that the city is very customer service oriented. They were very up front about wanting to know how I felt about customer service; what things I had done in the past.

“And bring in someone that had experience in basic aviation issues such as airline lease agreements and how you generate non-airline revenue to strengthen the financial position of the airport. It was a sense of let’s move forward and bring this airport along.”

San Antonio International is in the process of negotiating a new use and lease agreement with the airlines, which expires September 30. The decision was made to extend the existing lease a year in order to give staff an opportunity to really get into the negotiations with the carriers, says Miller, while waiting for the opening of the first phase of terminal development, Terminal B, which replaces the current Terminal 2.

Miller says another major focus is on non-airline revenue opportunities here. “There are some planning and development things that we’ll need to take a look at, other than the expansion program,” he explains.

“Basically, through these lease agreements we want to position the airport, to identify other leasing opportunities that can help us with our financial picture, and just to bring the staff together and let them know what my goals are for the airport.”

Central to his goals, adds Miller, is working with the community and the Chambers of Commerce in the San Antonio region, to be a core part of economic development initiatives.
“We need to look at how we can utilize Stinson Airport, which is our general aviation airport. Is there a way to move some of the current activity here over to Stinson, as a way of developing commercial opportunities here at the International Airport?,” he asks.

New terminal B
San Antonio International handles some 8.3 million passengers annually and has two terminals, 1 and 2. Upon the opening of the new Terminal B in November 2010, the existing Terminal 2 will be demolished.

A new central power plant is under construction, as is a central explosives detection screening system, which in time will service both terminals. Upon the opening of Terminal B, an assessment of Terminal 1 will be made in preparation of a total renovation, according to Miller, at which time Terminal 1 will be renamed Terminal A.

“We’re out right now with a request for proposals for Terminal B, which will come online in November,” relates Miller. “We have 12 concession areas in that terminal; three are news and gift; two specialty retail; seven are food and beverage.

“We want to look at concession opportunities that we may have in Terminal 1. We would like to come up with a plan to offer more in concessions pre-screening than what we have now.

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