Inside the Fence

Oct. 8, 2003
On Cincinnati , the Vision question, and a conference plug ...

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is not like other hubs. It's the regional jet hub. At CVG , Delta is the mainline hub carrier; Comair is the RJ feeder/carrier. They've created a network of RJ service in the heart of the U.S. , at a time when the midsection is in turmoil.

Comair focuses on giving small communities access to the system — a good thing. Especially when American is pulling back at St. Louis , and Chicago has United trying to figure out which towns it will serve at ORD.

Talk about Cincinnati and you need to talk about Bob Holscher, 62, subject of the issue's cover story. He went from fireman to chief to ops to ops manager to director, rather quickly. A few outtakes from his interview ...

• His advice to those entering airport management: "Your professional airport person needs to stay professional; if you want to be a politician, be a politician."

• On his greatest concern today — customer service: "As airlines cut back, maybe it's time for the airports to step up a little bit more themselves."

• On cross-utilization of employees at CVG : "Our firemen will do runway checks at night, which keeps them very current on the airfield, from a safety standpoint. Plus, it saves us hiring additional people to do it.

"When they have to rush out onto the runway or taxiway, they really know that runway or taxiway.

"We have electricians who come in during the winter and plow snow. It's a chance to pick up some extra money. I don't know how many airports have electricians who will plow snow."

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It will be a shame if the four-year aviation funding bill, Vision 100, is blindly dismissed by Congress because of the dispute of air traffic controllers and contract towers. Recent Inspector General reports ( conclude that FAA's contract tower program is a success, saving millions while being safe, and that the agency's ATC modernization program, STARS, continues to lag projections while plagued by cost overruns.

Though aviation groups tend to back away from ATC privatization — it's better to deal with the demon you know — it seems FAA and ATC must at some point be separated if for no other reason than accountability.

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Finally, on November 7 in Las Vegas , AAAE and NATA will offer an airport/tenant relations seminar, tagged onto the AAAE Non-Hub/GA Airports Conference. The goal: Provide a forum for airports and FBOs to hash out issues they may have.

Thanks for reading.