A recognized reliever
NATA cites Morristown, Barkhauer
By John F. Infanger, Editorial Director
INDIANAPOLIS - At its annual convention here in March, the National Air Transportation Association honored Morristown (NJ) Municipal Airport director Bill Barkhauer, A.A.E., with its annual Airport Executive Partnership Award. Afterward, Barkhauer discussed his airport and industry issues with AIRPORT BUSINESS. Here are some edited highlights.
Barkhauer, 49, has served for 20 years at Morristown, a New York reliever which caters to some of the leading corporate flight departments in the U.S. He is active in the Ameri-can Association of Airport Exec-utives, where he is the current secretary-treasurer, is past chair of the Non-Hub/GA Committee, and is the current chair of the taskforce that is looking at making recommendations for security at general aviation airports.About the Award
On the NATA Airport Partnership Award's significance ...
"With all of the fallout from last September, there are a lot of challenges. Not surprisingly, and probably appropriately, commercial aviation has been first in line to get all of the attention. But GA was just as hard it, and in some ways harder hit, by the events than even the commercial segment was. I think the award highlights that, and the most important thing about it is highlighting the need for everyone in the business to work together."
On how the events of 9/11 impacted the Morristown airport ...
"Initially, like everyone else, we had a couple of days of total silence. Then, suddenly, we were taking a lot of other airports' traffic, because Westchester County airport and Morristown were the only properly equipped airports in the area that were allowed to handle Part 91-type traffic. We found ourselves with dozens and dozens of airplanes, and actually had to close our secondary runway for about three weeks and turn it into a ramp. A lot of nights we had 50 to 60 airplanes, mostly jets, parked on that runway.
"Signature's our FBO, and they sent people from other facilities that were closed and they were running a remote ramp on the middle of the airfield that saw constant activity.
"It was a challenge for them, for airport operations, and for the tower. At the same time, we had to be much more conscious of security. Of course, ratcheting up security at GA airports had to be done at our airport and others without a formal playbook."
On ongoing security initiatives at Morristown ...
"In the initial phase [after 9/11], we had 24-hour police coverage at the airport and every car was being checked; we're not in that mode now.
"We transitioned to a private security service checking all vehicular traffic during the nighttime hours, and a contingency plan with local law enforcement and our own resources that allows us to ramp up security to a higher level fairly quickly. We also met with all the tenants to get their concerns and find out what they were doing. A lot of our tenants are Fortune 500 companies that have sophisticated security at their facilities, and always have.
"Signature is our lone FBO, with operations at three physical locations. They beefed up their security significantly. They instituted a badging program for their employees and restricted passenger and air crew vehicles coming out on the ramp. They put guards at any access points to the AOA through their facilities. To their credit, they did that proactively.
"Going forward, we're going to institute a security training program for our employees and tenant personnel; a security awareness kind of thing. I'd rather have a few hundred sets of eyes that know what to watch for and what to do if something doesn't look right."
On finding the money to pay for increased security demands ...
"We have made some adjustments to our rates and charges - landing fees and fuel flowage fees - and we've accepted that the airport will have to absorb some of that cost. Down the road we're hoping that some of these things can become grant-eligible, but historically security improvements at GA airports have not been generally funded through AIP. It's one of the things that AAAE is pushing for."
On AAAE's General Aviation Airports Security Taskforce ...
"Our chairman, Jim Koslosky (Grand Rapids, MI) felt early on after September 11 that it was important for AAAE to look at security from the GA airport standpoint as well as from the commercial viewpoint. We tried to put a group together that was balanced geographically and in the type of GA airports represented.
"We feel that the federal government will eventually get to the point where there will be some formal rulemaking or actions taken relative to GA security. That will logically come from the TSA, under the current structure. We don't know when this will happen or what it will be, but we do know that under the very draconian restrictions put on GA post-9/11 - some vestiges which still remain, like at DCA - that it was important to get something out there that offered the airport perspective.
"Though the report isn't finalized, one aspect that everybody zeroed in on very early was that the threat is access to aircraft.
"Another thing is, just like there are different kinds of commercial service airports, you've got different types of GA airports. Just as you don't treat Topeka like JFK, you don't treat an agricultural strip in Kansas like you would Morristown. We're looking at four categories, with consideration for location, length of runway, and number of based airplanes."