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...

"We still have to get passengers from the consolitated facility to the terminal. There's a number of different ways we can do that — a people mover system, light rail — and we're exploring those. Another way is rubber tire shuttles which still reduce roadway congestion because of load factors. In either case, any one of these can run on alternative fuels or electricity, so now you've made air quality improvements.

"The third advantage is that right now we have four and a half rental car companies on-airport. There are eight others that are off-airport. By bringing all of those that are off-airport into the same facility, it's going to have a significant impact on customer service. Right now, we anticipate getting everybody into the facility.

"Last but certainly not least is airport revenue. This will be a way of significantly increasing our concession revenues from rental cars because we will be bringing in those off-airport companies."

Construction cost of the rental car facility is $120 million.

Another advantage of the new rental car facility, explains Sherry, is that it provides a step in the county's and airport commission's desire to more fully integrate port and airport activities. "The first step might be this rental car facility, where we're going to tie the port terminal together with it."

The next step, he says, could be a direct rail link. The economics aren't there yet, Sherry says, but with the cruise lines continuing to expand, particularly with super liners that can move more than 3,000 persons, the situation could change rapidly. "If you're a transportation planner, this is utopia," he says. "This is what everybody wants: sea, rail, air, highways, mass transit."

Meanwhile, CUTE systems have been installed on board cruise liners to facilitate seamless passenger movement through the airport to the carriers.

Regarding opportunities for non-passenger ties with the port, Sherry says, "You have the second largest cruise ship port in the world at Port Everglades, and more than half of their business is cargo and petroleum."

One obstacle that has emerged for such ties and future economic development at FLL, says Sherry, has been the inability of customs to fund its growth in services needed to meet the demand here. In fact, the county is helping to fund customs services until the issue is resolved in Washington.

"The customs agency has been unable to provide what we need in terms of growth and future growth. What is at stake here is severe economic impact," he says.

We Recommend