Carpe Diem

Paul Bowers

Carpe Diem

Recently, I had a spirited discussion with a friend about a particular airport. After quite a bit of back and forth about what is good and not so good about the facility, my friend finally said, "I don't know what the big deal is. It's very functional."

Whether you call it functional, comfortable or even gently used, the status quo at airports today doesn't cut it. Given our current robust market, passengers are traveling in ever-increasing numbers and spending more discretionary dollars inside the terminal than ever before. But there's a catch: They spend when airports give them a reason to spend. It's not enough to have a parking space and a $5 bottle of (sometimes) cold water for them. Passengers are spending big bucks when airports cater to their needs and wants.

What I find sad is the hesitation to pull the trigger on infrastructure improvements. The ratio of successful to failed projects is huge. The lead time needed to plan and build is long, and success requires strong leadership and vision. It also requires faith and the experience to know that sustainable growth is always there despite isolated blips in the growth curve. We should expect that, plan for it and never become complacent.

In this issue, we have a number of terrific examples of airports that are stepping up. MSP's new golf concession and the investments in upgrading Wi-Fi at MCI, LAX and SEA head the list. GEG and YVR have successfully tapped into landside development in very different ways. And officials at YXE and LAX's Terminal 5, as well as our Industry Insider columnist, address the importance of providing outstanding customer service during airport construction.

There's no doubt about it, we're living in and enjoying a wonderful time to be in the airport industry. Let's not settle for functional. Carpe Diem!,




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