Now I Have Your Attention

April 13, 2017

On Feb. 20, I was on a flight from Milwaukee to Tampa (Southwest Flight 1519), when a passenger had a severe medical emergency. The crew sprang into action, called in all medical personnel on the flight to assist and after performing an emergency landing, rescue officials in Tampa took over and the ground crew did their job moving us around in a timely fashion.

Without breaking a sweat, airline and airport workers saved a person’s life. And when everyone applauded their efforts, the only response they gave was “this is what we’re trained to do.”

You might not realize this, but what you do is really amazing to the rest of the world. They just don’t realize it until they see it in action.

Airports Council International–North America recently released a report showing our airports need a $100 billion in investment by 2021 just to accommodate growth. That’s a big number and something that can frighten a lot of federal and local leaders.

Airports are quick to tout new flights and major construction projects to their local press, but don’t share the day-to-day work that is really unique. Educate the public about what you do and show them why you’re important.

In this issue, we look at the snow plow rodeo put on by the IASS in Buffalo. The public doesn’t think about snow removal at an airport despite it being one of the most critical and skillful jobs on the airfield. But when the local press was invited to see the rodeo in action, it showed the public how imperative it is to allowing them to travel.

Most people don’t give a second thought about a runway while going through the airport or how it operates outside of where they’ll find the closest bathroom or eatery. If you show them how interesting it really is via your local press outlets, you will be surprised how fast they catch on.

The industry has a lot of challenges facing it this year, but conditions are present to make meaningful gains for airports across North America.

Getting the support for airports means gaining the support of the public, so in the advice of my first news editor when I broke into the industry, “if you want to reach people, don’t tell them a story—show them a story.”