2021 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Anthony W. Barnes, Chief Operating Officer, Airport Minority Advisory Council

Dec. 9, 2021
Courtesy of Anthony W. Barnes
Anthony W. Barnes
Anthony W. Barnes

Anthony W. Barnes is the chief operating officer at the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC), which is the only trade association dedicated to increasing diversity in airport contracting and employment. “My passion lies in creating a social impact, which led me to the only aviation trade organization focused on promoting women and minorities in an industry where they are underrepresented,” said Barnes. Before serving as AMAC’s chief operating officer, he served as served as AMAC’s business development and membership director.

In addition to his role at AMAC, Barnes participates in various aviation industry organizations, resource groups and events. He serves on the Eno Board Regents. Eno is a non-profit foundation with a mission to shape public debate on critical multimodal transportation issues and build an innovative network of transportation professionals. The board of regents supports Eno’s educational and professional development programs. Barnes also serves on the Eno Center for Transportation Aviation Working Group, a standing advisory group on matters relating to aviation policy.

“I enjoy meeting and engaging with various entities in the airport ecosystem,” Barnes said. “I also have the satisfaction of knowing that I am effecting real change and helping minority-owned and women-owned businesses access business and employment opportunities.”

Barnes has served on numerous panels and has been a speaker at various events and workshops discussing ideas around why diversity matters and how to create an inclusive organizational culture.

During the pandemic, he participated in a coalition that advocated for direct federal relief to hard-hit airport concessionaires, where many represented minority and women business enterprises. During initial rounds of COVID federal relief, concessionaires were the only group in the airport ecosystem that did not receive federal relief. Lobbying efforts led to $200 million in direct COVID relief for airport concessionaires, particularly airport concession disadvantaged business enterprises. In addition, President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan included $800 million for airports to provide rent and minimum annual guarantees (MAG) relief for airport concessionaires.

Under Barnes’ leadership and in partnership with the Denver International Airport Commerce Hub, AMAC provided technical assistance to minority businesses adversely impacted by the pandemic. This was accomplished through the establishment of an AMAC information hub/resource center, where effected businesses would receive direct assistance with navigating the federal relief process and resources. In-person programming transitioned to virtual programs under efforts led by Barnes. In June, AMAC and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) presented the 36th Annual AMAC Airport Business Diversity Conference and the first AMAC virtual annual conference.

Going forward, Barnes said, “I would like to see the aviation industry with a renewed sense of energy that inspires discovery and exploration. I would also like to see an equitable, inclusive and diverse industry that is reflective of the many cultures and individuals it brings together through air travel.”