'We’ll Never Return. No, We’ll Never Return'

Aug. 26, 2016

The older I get the more things change, and — it seems to me — the faster things change. I used to wonder, “What’s new?” Now I wonder “How in the world will we ever adapt fast enough?”

I spent some time at the library last week, with Fortune, Forbes, and The Economist. Scary stuff! Far scarier than Chainsaw Massacre or that Scissorhand guy. I went straight back home and read Dead Wake, a great book about the sinking of the Lusitania. It was comforting — at least I know how that one works out.

Today, automobiles are changing so fast that we, as the circus ringmaster says, “may never see the likes of this again!” We’ve got Uber and Lyft, just for starters, one of which proclaims that car ownership as we know it today will vanish. Cars will most probably be smaller — too small to drive to the airport with luggage maybe — so pax may ride Uber/Lyft to the airport, which would also save them from parking in airport lots.

Will future cars be hybrid, electric, or something totally new? I dunno, but if what I read is just half true, cars will never be the same and that will affect parking, fueling, and other things we “have not dreamed of.” (My mother would chastise me for ending that sentence with a preposition, but the quote comes from the great aviation poet John Gillespie Magee).

The financial industry will change. Just think — have we ever before heard of “negative interest?” By golly, we have now. Banks are actually making customers pay to store money with them. Will this continue or reverse? The bankers seem to have a new buzzword, “fintech,” and some refer to the coming changes as a “revolution.”

Funny, we hear so much about change making new things possible, but we often forget that change also makes more change necessary. One article that I read, BTW, pointed out that work itself will change. Another seems to prove that in the past about 50 percent of companies demanded the applicant have an MBA for certain jobs. That percentage has dropped to something like 1 percent since 2012. Now that’s change in action and was a surprise to me.

Even politics is changing. One pundit pointed out that it has been literally decades since an election-year national convention — Republican or Democrat — was of big interest. It was instead “almost irrelevant.” That wasn’t true this year. What will happen four years from now? (I wonder if the biggest growth in voters this year has been in the two “Anybody But” groups. I’m in one of those groups, myself, but I’m not saying which one).

BTW, the most frequent accolade I hear about airports is praise for the cell-phone waiting area, which came as a result of a change — the ubiquity of the cell phone.

Seems to me that airports will be affected by all of the changes above. Airports buy, sell, finance, and deal with a cross section of local and transient customers. Times are changing fast and reactions must change faster and faster.