Inside the Fence

May 8, 2002

Inside the Fence

If politics is a commodity, the airport market is flooded. And, O' Avolar ...

By John Infanger, Editorial Director

May 2002

One of the better events to happen in aviation in recent months was the opening of the new Northwest terminal at Detroit Metro. In one day, DTW went from perpetual Worst Airport to having a first class facility, complete with an indoor tram that should at least be looked at by any airport needing to move passengers. The only negative about the new building is a shortage of phones.

While passengers enjoy the new DTW environs, pondering how the airport ever fit the previous mess into the new facility, the local and state officials have moved on, to a place that could get nasty and leave a bad taste for many involved. No sooner had the Wayne County Department of Airports enjoyed a moment in
the spotlight for transforming an airport, the State of Michigan and Governor Engler passed a law giving DTW and neighboring Willow Run Airport to a new authority. A lawsuit and a fight are pending.

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Speaking of the politics of airports, consider Terry Airport, a private reliever north of Indianapolis. Ray Van Sickle, the owner, has been talking with the county. Ray thinks selling the airport to the county is the best way to ensure the airport's future and its role in the growing region. It's made the airport more visible, and as a result amplified the voice of neighbors, who feel empowered.

A recent zoning hearing concerned a piece of airport property on which the FBO, Montgomery Aviation, wants to build a replacement terminal-hangar. The permit was approved previously, on property approved for airport use years ago. This was a hearing to reconsider the previous approval.

It seems the neighbors are questioning whether the intent of those who approved the parcel as part of the Terry Airport ever actually meant to allow the airport to put hangars on it.

* * *

For those who are nervous about security under the Transportation Security Administration, watch closely what happens with Washington Reagan National Airport and procedures required for corporates to use it. The result could serve as a blueprint for things to come.

TSA is a law enforcement agency first, they say. Once they scrutinize DCA and determine what security practices they'll be comfortable with, it seems logical that the agency will seek to use the DCA solution as a template for use elsewhere. At least, that's how it looks from an office in Southern Wisconsin.

* * *

Just as our April issue was reaching you with an update on Avolar, United was reaching out to its unions and the Chicago media to say that it would scrap its entry into business aviation. In the end, the decision appears to be more political than business logical. Too bad. Business aviation as a whole could have benefitted.

United/Avolar ratcheted up fairly quickly and lured some pretty good folks in the business. They went from working for the eager start-up to looking for a job. United has set up a data bank of resumes, available at They are broken out into the various professional disciplines: procurement, operations, customer service, IT, vendor relations, executive management, etc.

Ya gotta like an airline that helps its employees find new jobs.
Thanks for reading.