As Betsy Devos was sworn into the office of the 11th US Secretary of Education, many wondered how the powerful, wealthy couple would do in the Republican Party. There was no question. For years, the pair had been working in Michigan for education reform. Now they would work together in Washington, as Dick Devos joined the FAA.
How did Devos get tapped for the FAA’s new Management Advisory Council? It started with his hometown airport.
Devos has always had a passion for aviation. It started when he was young. He became a pilot and eventually he started working with aviation business leaders, such as the CEO of Southwest and the CEO of AirTran Airways. It was during the early 2000s that he actually acted on those relationships, calling up the CEO of AirTran Airways to propose something new. It was a radical idea, but Devos was sure that it was going to help the hometown airport as well as his hometown.
The plan was to bring in more business travelers and traffic to the airport. Devos had already built the Devos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids, and he wanted to bring in business travelers who would see that Grand Rapids is more than just a little town in Michigan. In fact, the town had been built up a great deal in the 1990s, including the Andel Arena and Devos Performance Hall.
So, the CEO of AirTran Airways agreed. Four new destinations were unlocked for the city, including Denver, St. Louis, Vegas, and Orlando. The new dsetinations instantly brought in more traffic to the airport, but it wasn’t until Devos began working with the airlines that there was a new strategy for bringing in and retaining new travelers.
By 2018, a $45 million renovation fund was in place to help the airport expand. Best of all, the expansion was paid for by the airlines and not the airport itself. It was these types of strategies that the FAA was looking for in its upcoming changes. The aviation industry had been challenged by President Trump to do better, and so the airport began a process of upgrading several areas, including food courts and technology in the terminals. However, the new business traveler center would stand out from all of that.
With the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Devos began to work with other CEOs like Southwest’s executive team. Southwest’s CEO praised the FAA for its decision. Devos will be meeting with the FAA for another year.
Read http://dickdevos.com/news/ to learn more.