Episode 18

Khalia Moore, SEA

A 10-year-old retail kiosk program aimed at providing opportunities for local small or ACDBE-certified retail business owners to test concepts at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is expanding, adding space for food and beverage operators to do the same. Those who pass through SEA’s introductory program, which is largely financed by the airport, can move on to the program’s intermediate level before each side decides whether to make a long-term commitment and investment. Two of the original participants – Seattle Chocolate and Planewear – have graduated to inline stores with full-length leases.

Episode 17

Stewart Steeves, Vantage Airport Group

Vantage Airport Group has been involved in some of the most visible airport redevelopments in the U.S. in recent years. Along with its partners, it’s putting the finishing touches on the complete rebuild of LaGuardia Airport (LGA), leading the concessions overhaul at Midway International Airport (MDW) and taking on management of the new terminal being built at Kansas City International Airport (MCI). Each of these programs is mixing in high levels of local, minority- and women-owned concessions that represent the individual community. Stewart Steeves, COO, provides an update on those projects.

Episode 16

Tim Harms, Enliven

Enliven has pouring rights deals at four airports in the U.S. The company’s new CEO, Tim Harms, says several more airports have put into upcoming RFPs language opening the door to additional deals. While pouring rights deals remain controversial among concessions operators, Harms says Enliven wants to work with them and all parties to ensure the deals increase sales and profits for each.

Episode 15

Daniel Robert Gooch, Canadian Airports Council

Canadian airports have faced more restrictions and gotten less help from the federal government throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic. Those factors have led to a slower recovery and forced them to take on large amounts of debt just to maintain operations. While some relief has started flowing through the Canadian aviation system, Gooch discusses what he feels is a competitive disadvantage with AXN’s Andy Tellijohn in this episode.

Episode 14

David Kasprak, O’Kelly Kasprak

As operations return to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic, airports need to find ways for people to congregate differently than they have in the past. AX Insider host Andrew Tellijohn chats with David Kasprak, principal and co-founder of the full-service design and project management firm O’Kelly Kasprak, about how airports can work with tenants and repurpose existing space.

Episode 13

Todd Hauptli, American Association of Airport Executives

Andy Tellijohn engages Todd Hauptli, president and CEO of the American Association of Airport Executives in a wide-ranging discussion around what it took to get congressional funding to help airports through COVID-19, where the industry stands with respect to President Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal and the organization’s efforts to step up innovation.

Episode 12

Rob Wigington, Airport Restaurant & Retail Association

AXN’s Andy Tellijohn and ARRA’s executive director Rob Wigington about the industry’s recent injection of optimism and how airports and operators can continue working together. 

Episode 11

Stephen Van Beek, Steer

AXN’s Andy Tellijohn engages Steer’s director and head of North American aviation, Stephen Van Beek, in a discussion of the possibilities 2021 holds for traffic and profits.

Episode 10

Justin Meyer & David Long, City of Kansas City Aviation Department

The city of Kansas City is moving forward with plans for the concessions program inside the new terminal at Kansas City International Airport (MCI). An RFP will be on the street in mid-January. Whether it results in a single operator running the entire program or a dozen operators splitting the space, the proposal will result in a single contract that city officials think will be more palatable to financial markets offering support. The city and its consultant, ICF, will host a virtual meeting on January 12 and 13 through the virtual reality platform Virbela, where bidders can learn more. Firms can register at: www.FlyKCI.com/Concessions.

Episode 9
Sam Whitehorn, Principal & Co-Founder, Elevate Government Affairs

This episode is an update to our pre-election conversation with Sam Whitehorn, episode 7 released on October 29, 2020.

The election is, well, likely almost over. Most of the prominent races that featured candidates with a history of supporting transportation funding were won by the incumbent candidate. The election of Joe Biden likely means negotiations with Congress will be at least a bit calmer over the next four years. And, even if the Georgia Senate run-offs in January result in divided government, infrastructure is generally a bipartisan issue, with influential members of both parties in favor of putting money into projects in all phases of transportation, including airports.

Episode 8
Lise D’Andrea, President, CEO & Founder, CXE

While there’s still a lot of uncertainty around when airports might start truly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic that has devastated it since March, there are some positive signs in terms of hiring. A survey of its clients conducted by CXE earlier this year indicated that nearly two-thirds were starting or planning to start bringing back substantial portions of its pre-pandemic work force. Many of those companies also have started spending more time focusing on improving the employee experience, with plans to communicate regularly, train aggressively and regularly recognize and show them appreciation for their work. These strategies, in both the short- and long-term, could help improve the overall travel experience for passengers.

Episode 7
Sam Whitehorn, Principal & Co-Founder, Elevate Government Affairs

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have both promised significant infrastructure bills during their campaigning for president. There aren’t a lot of details as to what their plans would include or how they would be funded. But the need for significant upgrades to roads, bridges and airports across the U.S., coupled with the ability to stimulate the economy and get people back to work, make it likely that either candidate, if elected, would make such investments an early priority.

Episode 6
Roddy Boggus, Vice President and Aviation Buildings Service Group Leader, RS&H

As the industry prepare for eventual recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, several other factors are affecting what the industry might look like in the future. Millennials are becoming more prominent and powerful and they’re less likely than older passengers to spend money on food or retail when they travel. So, as airports look to find ways to convince travelers they are safe, they also must deal with the likelihood of changing passenger habits that could affect the layout and mix of the entire experience.

Episode 5
Christina Cassotis, CEO of Allegheny County Airport Authority

Traffic at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) is running at about 30 percent of 2019 levels. But that doesn’t mean the airport has nothing going on during the industry-wide COVID-19 crisis. The airport delayed the groundbreaking on a $1.1 billion modernization project, but spent time rethinking design aspects of its future terminal that airport officials hope can mitigate the impact of potential future health outbreaks. PIT also has begun development of its Pittsburgh Airport Innovation Campus, which aims to attract participants in the 3D printing industry to the airport, furthered its solar and natural gas developments on the way toward unveiling its self-sustaining microgrid, and diversified its non-aeronautical revenue formula with a foray into the cargo business.

Episode 4
Bill Swelbar, Chief Industry Strategist with Delta Airport Consultants

Initially, Delta Airport Consultants’ research indicated the possibility that by the end of 2020, traffic could be back as high as 40 percent of 2019 levels. The recent second-wave of COVID-19 cases around the U.S., however, and the accompanying announcement by several carriers that they would shrink capacity after Labor Day, indicate a slower recovery, with regional air service likely to experience the greatest suffering. A slow return to flying by businesses and ongoing restrictions on international travel also represent a drag on a potential recovery, meaning it’s likely three or four years or more before traffic even approaches the record year that 2019 was for many airports.

Episode 3
Rian Burger, Senior Principal specializing in Airports for Stantec Architecture

While COVID-19 has had a disastrous effect on travel, it’s pushing airports to make many changes that have been talked about for years. Enhanced cleaning processes and touchless transactions are among ways the industry is getting healthier. Airports should consider furthering those enhancements and going a step further by diversifying revenue streams going forward to ensure that pandemics or other disasters don’t have the same kind of impact in the future.

Episode 2
Julie Wienberg, Vice President of Aviation Infrastructure, HNTB Corp.

The COVID-19 health pandemic will eventually be in the past and signage reminding travelers to socially distance and wash hands may go away with it. But this is likely not the last pandemic this country will see. Whether it’s building with materials that are easier to clean, increasing the availability of touchless options for passengers or designing security measures that ensure the health and safety of travelers and those who work at the airport, increased awareness of the implications of health-related incidents will create long-term change in the airport experience.

Episode 1
Nick Baker, CEO and Creative Director, SmartDesign Group

Vancouver-based Smart Design Group has benefited significantly from its work in aviation design. So, as the effects of COVID-19 ravaged travel counts across the world, Nick Baker wanted to give something back. He’s offered his company’s services for free to members of the Airport Minority Advisory Council in order to help smaller businesses navigate changes necessary to consider reopening. While he’s optimistic and hopeful that the effects of COVID will be a memory in the next couple years, he’s also got some ideas on how the industry can evolve to win back the confidence of travelers and emerge stronger as travelers return.


AXiNsider is an interview-style podcast featuring in-depth discussions with the professionals, leaders and wave-makers working to steer the industry toward growth and innovation.