Walker: We’re going to make it predictable. Look, we’re going to screen a mechanic who, if he’s worth his salt, can figure out how to make an airplane malfunction and crash after it takes off. You’re screening a guy who is going to be driving a fuel truck with 5,000 gallons of jet-A in it and if he wants to do something, we don’t think he can with that kind of a weapon in his hands?
Some of it’s just nonsensical. On the other hand, the random screening that TSA has put in place is a very good thing. My biggest concern for my airport with security is 1,500 people crammed like sardines in front of the checkpoint. There’s the target for the terrorist, and we’ve created it for him.
AB: Congestion management is becoming a hot consideration, particularly in light of the focus on JFK and the Northeast. Is this one of the answers to the capacity questions?
Walker: The problems LaGuardia has are not my problems. I’ve got some congestion problems in the peak times, but I have some valleys. And what you can do at an airport that has peaks and valleys is probably different than what you can do at an airport that’s at peak all day long. So, congestion management needs to be addressed in that fashion.
What’s frustrating with my system is I have McCarran and two very nice general aviation reliever airports. Why, as an airport director, can I not manage my system to maximize the efficiency for everybody? I got single-engine piston airplanes that are still landing at McCarran, and I have perfectly good pavement that’s underutilized at my two general aviation airports. Now, why on earth at a congested airport during the peak times do we allow that to happen?
AB: At the recent NBAA convention I heard your name brought up several times as the reason that show can’t return to Vegas. Specifically, that you don’t want the Static Display at McCarran. Is that fair?
Walker: What I won’t do is take away space from another operation and give it to them for a week and tell the other guys you can’t come for a week. That’s not right.
What I did was, I went over to Henderson and pointed to a spot and said, ‘We’re not doing anything with that land. If you guys want to come in and lease it from us and build a big ramp for a static display, I’ll lease it to you.
AB: NBAA had no interest in your Henderson Airport offer?
Walker: They have not given me a response back one way or the other. Their silence, I guess, is the answer.
We offered them an alternative. I’m not going to charge my users the cost of developing that space for them. That’s not fair.
AB: Other hot issues?
Walker: One is facilitation. All of our members who have international arrivals facilities are experiencing the same problems. CBP [Customs & Border Patrol] staffing is becoming a serious problem for processing people into this country. We believe that it’s driving away customers who want to come to the United States.
AB: And, of course there’s the growing environmental issue.
Walker: For whatever reason, airports and airlines are becoming a big target on the global warming issue, and I think we need to get a better sense of that, figure out what the real issues are, and develop strategies that are relative to the issue, and not an overresponse. As an organization we need to provide some reliable discussion points so that we can have factual conversation.