Keeping Pace

KEEPING PACE At Ft. Lauderdale Int'l, the focus is on just-in-time planning, building By John F. Infanger, Editorial Director April 2000 FT. LAUDERDALE, FL — William Sherry, A.A.E., director of aviation for the Ft...


KEEPING PACE

At Ft. Lauderdale Int'l, the focus is on just-in-time planning, building

By John F. Infanger, Editorial Director

April 2000

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL — William Sherry, A.A.E., director of aviation for the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), uses the word opportunity a lot. His airport sits next to the second largest cruise port in the world, the city has long been a tourist destination, and it's situated perfectly to capitalize on trade with South America. The opportunities exist, he tells you, and the biggest is for intelligent airport growth.

Sherry came to Ft. Lauderdale from the state aviation director's chair. It was a chance to return to his hometown and have an impact on the airport's role in a growing and changing community, he says. It was also an opportunity to work with an airport commission that fully supports an expanding role for the airport. "I've got a 7-0 vote when it comes to expansion," he says.

Toward that end, Sherry and his staff are heading up two major development efforts at FLL ...

• Airport Expansion Plan. A $334 million program that includes a 5,000-stall parking garage; construction of a new Terminal 4; a new access roadway system; refurbishing the three existing terminals; and, construction of a consolidated rental car facility.

• Airport Development Pro-gram. This involves development of remaining acreage on the west side of the airport. Amerijet has leased 34 acres and is building a $20 million cargo-related facility that employs an estimated 1,200 people. Sherry says he has multiple parties interested in the remaining parcels. "We feel that the highest and best use is with cargo development facilities," he explains.

WELL-TIMED PLANNING
From 1992-1999, airline passenger growth at FLL grew 68 percent to nearly 14 million enplaned domestic and international passengers. It bills itself as the "fastest growing airport in South Florida," comparing those growth numbers to Miami International, which has experienced 28 percent growth since 1992. With that growth, and the corresponding growth at the nearby port, have come demands on the airport and roadway infrastructure — the catalyst for the development programs.

With eleven signatory air carriers having a vote in airport expansion projects, Sherry plays the balancing act of orchestrating just-in-time infrastructure growth with not allowing costs to get out of hand, to the point that airlines begin discontinuing service.

As a result, the Terminal 4 project will come on line just in time with one concourse and nine gates, and have expansion capability to three concourses and 23 gates. "Once this is in place, I can add another concourse like that," says Sherry, snapping his fingers.

A new roadway system is set to be completed in 2003 — the same time the current system is expected to fail. Such planning, Sherry says, is "well-timed."

Despite the ongoing projects, Sherry boasts about the cost structure given air carriers at FLL, which he labels his "compelling argument." That is: Sherry estimates his cost per enplaned passenger to the airlines serving FLL is $4.12; the industry average is above $7, he says, and at neighboring commercial service airports it's as high as $12.

CONSOLIDATED RENTAL CAR FACILITY
While controlling costs is one way to help contain costs to airlines, another is to offset carrier costs by raising revenues through other means such as retail concessions, parking, cargo development, and a new consolidated rental car facility, says Sherry.

The rental car project, he says, has no downside and has four distinct advantages.

"We found out that the rental car companies and their customers were by far the biggest users of the roadway system. So, we'll have roadway enhancement by getting the rental cars off the roadway.

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