Inside the Fence

Feb. 8, 2001
Inside the Fence

By John F. Infanger, Editorial Director

January/February 2001

A year ends and another begins, allowing a moment for recognition. To wit ...
• Best Nomination for the New Year: Norm Mineta as DOT Secretary, who in the pre-Bud Shuster years of the '80s-'90s may have had as much influence on aviation policy in the U.S. as anyone as chair of the House transportation (aviation) committee. When the aviation industry goes to sleep at night, it dreams of nominations such as this.
Among his attributes ...
• an appreciation for the U.S. air transportation system; thus
• an advocate; and
• a pragmatism that generates respect and compromise.
Mineta also chaired the National Civil Aviation Review Commission, a dedicated group which offered thoughtful solutions to much of the gridlock facing us today. The report is collecting dust on a shelf someplace, but Mineta may ultimately see some of the recommendations happen. It should be noted, however, that not all aviation groups will be pleased with that prospect.
• Best Supplement by a Major Daily Newspaper: The Chicago Tribune, which in late November ran a four-part series (visit on local and national gridlock, and kicked it off with a special pull-out supplement in its Sunday edition. (You know gridlock is a problem when ...)
• Best Headline to a Supplement by a Major Daily: The same Chicago Tribune supplement offered, "Hope isn't even on the radar."
• Hands-Down Best Giveaway at a Conference: At the annual fall airport retail conference hosted by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, SmarteCarte gave attendees a Gold Card, good for one year of free use of its cart/locker services. The cost versus goodwill has to be minimal, while the usefulness is something each user will remember long after the year runs out. Cost-effective marketing at its best.
• Best Aviation-Related Advertis-ing Effort: The ad campaign by the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association promoting airports and broadcast on the Weather Channel over the holiday season. The rest of the trade associations might want to call up Phil Boyer and ask how they can participate to keep this effort going.
• Best Answer to the Question: Why Have Another Conference?: The Oklahoma Regional Business Airport Summit, held in November in Tulsa. The brainchild of Bob Jandebeur, who sold his Million Air FBO last year, the meeting was intended to serve as a catalyst toward getting business airports to move forward together. One key aspect: getting Williams Communica-tions involved to tie the airports into the system via the magic of wireless.
• Best Reason To Have a Conference Award: The joint AAAE-NATA sponsored symposium held last fall in Orlando, bringing airports and tenants together. There were some 80 attendees. The potential for this meeting is much greater.
• Best Example of Moxie in the Face of Forces Out of Your Control Award: The folks at the Port Authority of NY & NJ, who said "no more" when inundated with requests for new flights into LaGuardia upon the removal of slots. The move forced FAA to act by imposing a lottery for access, and it demonstrated how market forces and current policy remain in conflict.
• Best Excuse to Say 'Congratu-lations:' To Bob and Kim Showalter, who once again are regenerating their FBO in Orlando.
Thanks for reading.