OK, So You Get All of 20 Minutes With Jim Bennett ...

... outgoing head of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and incoming head of the Abu Dhabi Airports Company – oh, and incoming chair of AAAE. When you’re tapping into a well-respected knowledge base, 20 minutes can be very revealing in...


... outgoing head of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and incoming head of the Abu Dhabi Airports Company – oh, and incoming chair of AAAE. When you’re tapping into a well-respected knowledge base, 20 minutes can be very revealing in an interview. Jim Bennett took over the reins of MWAA following James A. Wilding – not particularly easy shoes to fill. After all, Wilding had overseen the transformation of the two-airport, nothing airport system of DCA and IAD into the vibrant dynamo the airports are today. Credit goes to Jim Wilding; to Jim Bennett – and to a U.S. Congress open minded enough (yes, there was a time) to get out of the airport business. What a transformation. Bennett had gone from career stops at Phoenix Sky Harbor; Shreveport, LA; Flint, MI; and Airports Council International-North America … to the post of being president/CEO of MWAA. He recently retired that position to head up the Abu Dhabi Airports Company. Bennett definitely offers a global perspective. The full text of the Dallas interview at the annual meeting of the American Association of Airport Executives will appear in the June issue of AIRPORT BUSINESS magazine. Some teasers (with a comment or two) … On the subject of airline mergers … “I understand a lot of people don’t necessarily like to see changes in industries; but I think change is inevitable.” Adaptability, he suggests, is the answer for airports. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress appears prepared to tell the airline industry how to run its business (re: Continental/United). Like the auto industry? On the subject of foreign ownership in U.S. carriers … “I think for U.S. airlines to compete in a very dynamic and global industry, they need to be able to partner with and have investors from around the world. Like any other industry in our country, foreign ownership doesn’t mean that you lose control.” In 1942, this foreign ownership rule would have made total sense to me. In 2010, it makes little. On the U.S. market and opportunities for airport privatization … “I think there are some great opportunities in the U.S. market for privatization. It goes back to the globalization question; as airports look for ways to finance and make improvements worldwide, you have to approach that kind of like foreign ownership of airlines.” The globalization point to be made from this seat is … a guy who used to run the Shreveport, LA airport now sits in a seat to help make an Arab country a leader when it comes to airports. Look at his words and one sees that he gets this globalization thing. Thanks for reading. jfi