GOAA Chairman Wants to Keep Orlando Airport Soaring

Feb. 8, 2006
The first thing on his mind is beginning work on the new 2008 operating agreement with the airlines.

Feb. 7--Question: Gov. Jeb Bush recently appointed you to another term on the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. What do you see as the priorities over the next year for Orlando International Airport?

Answer: First and foremost on our minds is going to be beginning work on the new 2008 operating agreement with the airlines. Secondly, we'll be managing our way through the current financial crisis affecting the airlines. And thirdly, I would say we're going to turn our attention to alternative sources of revenue generation. And fourthly, we want to continue to operate first-class facilities that are customer friendly and keep people happy flying here.

Q.: Do you fly a lot yourself?

A.: I do not fly a lot. I was trying to think the other day the last time that I flew was to the Paris Air Show and that was back in the summer. So, no I'm not a frequent traveler. By the way, I paid my own way to the Paris air show. So if you do a public records request you won't find anything.

Q.: What's your favorite vacation destination?

A.: I like to go to the Bahamas. I like to ski. And I like the barrier islands off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina.

Q.: When you were talking about some of the priorities, you didn't mention a new director [for retiring director Bill Jennings]. Certainly, that's one of the things you all are looking at.

A.: Absolutely we're looking at that. That's something the committee's working on ongoing. I would think in three to five months they ought to be able to conclude their work.

Q.: In the past you've raised more than $100,000 for President Bush and money for his brother, the governor, as well. How did you come to know the Bush family?

A.: I was introduced to Jeb a couple of years before he ran for governor the first time by a friend of mine from Tallahassee. I agreed to support him at that time, and I've been on his team ever since.

Q.: Have you met the president?

A.: You mean 41 or W?

Q.: Both.

A.: I've met both. I think I first met 41 when he was vice president at a fund-raiser. I don't remember the details of the fund-raiser, but he was there. And when he was president I met him on several occasions, and likewise with W.

Q.: Does W have a nickname for you?

A.: (Laughing) I doubt it. That's flattering, but we're not that close. I don't run in that kind of a league. I'm just a lowly Orlando guy.

Q.: You're said to be somewhat of an aviation enthusiast, is that right?

A.: I've been a private pilot for 30 years, and I've been on the authority off and on since 1986. I've had an affinity for flying all my life and the opportunity to serve on the aviation authority has really given me a fascination -- an increased fascination -- with airports and airport operations and construction and management.

Q.: What kind of plane do you fly privately?

A.: I have a turbo commander.

Q.: How many hours do you have?

A.: Oh, something over 2,000.

Q.: You all were going to have a presentation at the next meeting in a couple of weeks about the Disney project. Where does that stand now?

A.: Well that's a very good question. It's entirely possible that because of the rearrangement we've had recently that we may need to postpone that presentation for a month just so that we're able get in a position to present all the sides of it properly. As you might expect we had some issues with the staff and the management at the authority. I haven't seen a presentation on it, but I'm told and I'm confident that they're working on it diligently.

Q.: Do you want to see Disney's Magical Express program continue?

A.: I think it's a good program, and I think it's our first real endeavor at transit. And transit certainly has a future at the airport. If you've got an airport that will accommodate at its ultimate buildout 80 million passengers a year, we can't move 80 million people in and out of the airport in private vehicles and taxi cabs and six-person vans. We're going to have to have, hopefully, several types of transit to help us, and this is a beginning. This is a start. I would expect to see it continue, and I'm hopeful that's the ultimate outcome.