Economic Realities

This warning label raises a very salient point for the industry: the ability to fly is not the same as the capability to fly.

In addition, more and more airports are introducing environmentally friendly elements - from strategic energy plans to electric vehicles - to save money and address growing community concerns about sustainability. Given the problem and the answer that airlines and airports must operate more efficiently, that leaves one considerable problem: implementation.

First, one of the most useful tools that we have in our arsenal is peer reviews. An extremely low-cost, highly efficient method for knowledge and wisdom transfer, peer reviews help everyone operate more economically. In February, Bonnie Allen, president of the Tucson International Airport Authority, hosted a peer review.

The session focused on a wide variety of topics: in-line baggage systems; EDS funding; private pilot screening programs; perimeter intrusion; the handling of sensitive security information during the bidding process; biometric access control; common use terminal equipment; design/build strategies; and adapting to an aging population.

Each attendee benefits from the knowledge and wisdom of someone else's experience. That saves time and money. And when choosing and implementing new technologies, the cost savings can prove extraordinary.

Another important strategy is to recognize and, if possible, stay ahead of, changing consumer patterns. Low-cost carriers and regional jet service have become extremely popular. Less than five years ago that represented only 5-7 percent of the marketplace. Now, it's in the 25-30 percent range and could grow to 40 percent soon. Recognizing, anticipating, and addressing short and long-term changes can help the industry save money and better serve the customer.

The industry as a whole must take a broader, more long-term perspective and act accordingly. We must continue to improve our process for project delivery, including optimizing design build (see sidebar). Look to the private sector and adapt what works. Seek out new revenue streams wherever possible. Study overseas airlines and authorities and apply what works. Introduce money-saving technologies quicker.

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