Aviation in America is not a new industry, but it has fallen on hard times in the past two decades. With digital technology changing regulations for security and commerce in aviation, the Federal Aviation Administration has been trying to make significant changes to airports and airline business. This includes new regulations and policies that don’t seem to get a lot of press, but they are very important to the stabilization of the market in America.
It’s no wonder that the FAA appointed Dick Devos to the Management Advisory Council last year. The council consists of 13 members from all different backgrounds, but Devos is the one with the most business acumen. He has been the CEO and President of Amway for many years, and most recently, he founded his own company The Windquest Group, which helps companies like Boxed Water make sound financial decisions.
Now that Devos is in the FAA’s new Management Advisory Council, he will be working alongside a number of transportation authorities and former airline executives to help the FAA with new policies and regulations. His work with airports is actually surprising considering that he also was the CEO and President of Amway at the time he began his partnership with the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
Most people don’t realize that this airport was just an air strip in the early 1900s. It has certainly changed over the years and become an incredible airport thanks to help from many airlines and Dick Devos. Starting in 1999, Devos worked with the CEO to come up with new plans for growth. Part of that was one phone call that Devos made to the AirTran Airways CEO, asking him to open up new flights at the airport. While it was a small airport, Devos had plans to turn it into a larger metropolitan airport by 2020.
Devos’ plan worked, and AirTran opened up four new flights. These were to popular destinations like Orlando and Vegas, as well as Denver and St. Louis. Ticket sales went through the roof and finally the airport was making some definitive changes. Devos stepped in again when Southwest took over AirTran Airways and started closing terminals in other airport locations. He called the CEO and talked to him about the future of the airline at the small airport, and how big he wanted the airport to grow. With that kind of support, the CEO of Southwest couldn’t say no. The new flights remained intact and new flights were added, furthering the expansion.
Finally, the airport received $45 million from airline partners to build up different areas of the airport, as well as a new business traveler’s center and food court area. This was the vision that Devos had seen all along.
As a pilot himself, he was very fond of the airport in his hometown. The Gerald R. Ford International AIrport had a lot of value as the place where he learned to fly and now kept many of his own private aircraft. In addition, it was the location of Devos’ pilot training school, the West Michigan Aviation Academy. Co-founded by Betsy Devos and Dick Devos, the training facility was for students who wanted to become pilots. It was one of the only schools helping students become pilots and making the profession into an exciting challenge.
That’s another area where Devos can help the FAA. He will be meeting with the council once every quarter to discuss new policies, future growth, and budgets.
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