A Case of Irrational Pessimism

Paul Bowers
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Paul Bowers, Publisher: Airport Improvement Magazine

Do we all have our seat belts fastened? So far 2008 has been one heck of a ride, and we still have half a year to go. The landscape we experience at year-end will surely be quite different than what our expectations were this past New Year's Day.

With oil prices in the $150 a barrel range, airlines cutting capacity and the economy sputtering, what does it all mean to the airport industry? That has definitely been a point of discussion throughout the industry and at events like the AAAE meeting in New Orleans.

Our immediate inclination when faced with uncertainty and tepid forecasts is to batten down the hatches to ride out the bad stretch until our economy, the airlines and the price of oil are stable once again. But is that really the correct path to take; or can we assume that the airlines will find the financial stability that has eluded them since deregulation and oil prices will ease?

Much as we adapted to a post 9/11 environment in terms of security, airport design and even economics, we need to accept that the world we entered on New Year's Day 2008 is now history and we'll never see anything quite like it again.

What does this mean in terms of how we do business? Today's business conditions have changed and we must change our own models or face extinction. Does this mean that our passenger counts and airport revenues have peaked? Hardly. History has shown that there is an undeniable positive growth curve for air travel. Granted, some years are better than others. And while some airlines come and others go, the bottom line is that long-term growth will continue and we need to be ready for it.

As Bill Fife so aptly points out in his guest piece on Page 42, "When times are tough, people tend to think in the short term. But that is never an appropriate way to view the aviation business." Now is an excellent time to prepare for our next inevitable growth spurt.

Two other items on the Publisher's to-do list:

First, in our May/June issue, we incorrectly identified RW Armstrong as a contractor in the Indy FedEx story. It was the designer of the project. Our apologies for the error.

Second, thank you for all of the support after the debut of our premier issue. Your feedback and participation are greatly appreciated.

Publisher's Column

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