Airport Tenants Make For A Strong Airport Support Group

by Dave Weiman
Published in Midwest Flyer – December 2019/January 2020 Issue

As an airport tenant, wouldn’t you like a say on how your airport is ran…an opportunity to get your friends and business associates involved in supporting your airport…an opportunity to protect the property around your airport from encroachment…an opportunity to support airport development projects and help get funding?

Airport managers, airport commissions and elected officials should welcome your input, if they truly care about the future of their airport. Unfortunately, some municipalities do not support their own airport – usually because they do not see the value in it, and therefore are not interested in investing any money in it (even as little as 5% for improvements). Unfortunately, that puts the airport manager (and hopefully the commission) between a rock and a hard place. Either the airport manager supports the airport, or the municipality which signs his paycheck. That’s when a “tenant group” can be especially helpful.

Most of the airport managers I know welcome the support of their tenants, solicit their input before a formal airport development proposal is written, and share with them short and long-range airport development plans.

Good communication skills are essential for all concerned, as is mutual respect for one another. The airport tenant should be respected because he is the customer, and likely has an investment in a hangar or business at the airport. The airport manager should be respected for his expertise.

In this issue of Midwest Flyer Magazine, there’s an article on how airports can apply for state and federal funding, beginning on page 52. This is valuable information for airport managers and tenants alike.

If there is ever outright disagreement on how the airport is ran, or with any proposals, I encourage both management and tenants to hold a public hearing, or at the least, write down their concerns and share them with one another in a calm and objective setting with a mediator.

A good way to achieve consensus on issues is to have all parties respond separately to the same set of questions, then have an independent party review their responses and determine agreement or disagreement, and share the results with each party. This is called “consensus building,” or a way to determine how close or far apart the parties are on the issues. Oftentimes, the parties are closer in agreement than they think they are, especially since the objective should be the same, to have the best airport possible! For assistance with consensus building, contact your state aeronautics office or university.

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