Dick Devos was recently nominated to the FAA’s Management Advisory Council. For the past year, he has been meeting with officials each quarter to go over new budgets, ideas for policies, future growth, and regulations. The advisory council is a civilian board that simply gives the FAA some thoughts on each topic it is addressing in the next few years. Already, the FAA has made changes to many regulations. So how does Dick Devos fit in?
For many years, he has worked in his community of Grand Rapids. He focused on building up downtown Grand Rapids and forming Grand Action. After that, he turned his sights to the airport nearby. While it had been an air strip in the early 1900s, the little executive airport was a place where many found flights to major cities in the US or where they stored private jets. Devos saw that the airport could be much more than that. He began working with Gerald R. Ford International Airport right as the CEO re-launched it in 1999. Devos immediately saw an opportunity to market the airport as the quintessential stop for business travelers.
He began working with AirTran Airways CEO to open up new flight destinations. Devos saw that this was a way to boost ticket sales and growth dramatically in a short period of time. The CEO agreed and soon there were new flights to Denver, Orlando, St. Louis, and Vegas. These new flights were a changing point for the airport. Now that ticket sales were up, there were finally plans for renovation and expansion.
However, there was a period when Southwest came to the airport where it was unsure whether the airline would even keep the terminals. Devos put in a call to the CEO to discuss how the airport was going to change and why keeping those terminals was essential to more growth, which would be beneficial for Southwest as well.
Devos convinced Southwest’s CEO to keep the terminals, thus leading to further growth at the airport, and it expanded, a $45 million renovation was approved. This renovation would rebuild part of the airport, making a special business traveler’s center area as well as upgrades to the food court.
Now that Devos is on the council. He has been working the FAA for several months. His appointment was praised by the CEO of Southwest as well as the CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Devos is now working closely with the FAA on plans for future growth as well as education for pilots. As the co-founder of West Michigan Aviation Academy with his wife, the school has led hundreds of students to becoming pilots.
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