Dick Devos has been named to the Management Advisory Council for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA recently started this advisory council to receive advisement on several topics, ranging from policies to budgets for upcoming renovations to airports. The council is comprised of 13 members who come from different backgrounds in transportation authority and airline business. Former airline executives have joined the council to advise on regulations as well as airport technology upgrades.
So how does Devos fit in? Well, for the past two decades, he has steadily increased the traffic at the Grand Rapids airport, and he is credited with putting the airport on the map. For many years, there had been no growth at the small West Michigan airport. It had very little growth throughout the 1990s, in fact. However, after its re-launch and renaming in 1999, the airport became the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Devos sought to help the airport get some ticket sales by talking to the airlines about a business traveler strategy.
For years, Devos had worked on a way to bring new business travelers to the airport. He had built the Devos Place Convention Center in downtown, and now he wanted to bring them through the airport. He worked with the airline executives at AirTran Airways in the early 2000s to open up new flights at the Grand Rapids location. This phone call actually worked and resulted in huge growth for the airport.
Eventually, Southwest took over AirTran Airways, and Devos again worked with the airline to keep open these new flights that would open up business travelers to coming through Grand Rapids. This allowed the airport to gain significant sales and become one of the top international airports in the country.
After its success, a renovation was planned known as the Gateway Transformation Project. Phase 1 was completed in 2018, and phase 2 was started in 2019. The whole project raised $45 million for the airport, and it has added a few new facilities, such as a business traveler center and a food court upgrade. The next phase will add more curbside services and an expedited security line using new technology.
Devos’ experience with the Gerald R. Ford International Airport will help him considerably as he works with the FAA on budgets, future growth, and airport technology upgrades. As a passionate aviator himself, Devos seems to have finally found a niche where he can combine his love of aviation with his acumen for business.
He will continue to work with the FAA for another two years.
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