Airports can be insular; as a unique bit of infrastructure surrounded frequently by neighbors who despise aviation’s byproduct (noise), the leadership can easily fall into a besieged mentality. Many airport directors maintain their relationship with their boss (the mayor and/or a board), meet frequently with their tenants (airlines and vendors), attend professional industry meetings and regard that as a full plate of responsibilities. Not so Emilio T. González, Ph.D., is the Director of the Miami-Dade Aviation Department. His outreach is multi-dimensional and exemplary.
MIA is the big airport in Florida with a plethora of domestic, international and cargo service. One of the airports, which aspires to be like MIA, is Tampa/St. Petersburg. Dr. Gonzáles could easily ignore this airport to the North, but instead he takes the more statesman like option and invites TPA’s Chief Executive Officer Joe Lopano to visit one of the South Florida’s intermodal jewels—the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC). This $2 billion asset facilitates the flow of MIA’s passengers to/from rental cars, buses, metro, and heavy rail. Clearly, Mr. Lopano and his Board want to create its own TPIC. By sharing this valuable information, Dr. González has created a bridge with another important community within the state. Some day there will come an issue for which MIA needs support and it will be able to draw on the good will of TPA.
Another aspect of the González outreach included Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Liliana Ayalde. This effort has clearer immediate benefit to MIA. The Congresswoman is a senior majority member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Rules Committee . From those posts Ros-Lehtinen can assure that TSA fulfills its staffing at the airport’s many choke points which TSA agents control. The Ambassador is the US’s primary interface with MIA’s #1 source of international passengers and cargo. Her knowledge of MIA’s activities will enhance her ability to advocate on behalf of the airport.
The Director’s calendar included a visit from a Turkish delegation- Fatih Beyhan, Director of the Turkish American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast U.S., and Turkish-born real estate developer Mehmet Bayraktar. This discussion was truly visionary in that MIA does not currently have service to Istanbul a significant gateway to Asia. If flights were to be initiated, an Asian hub would be linked to a South American hub, truly a global trade connection.
Director González summed up his calendar aptly:
“MIA is much more than just a local asset – we’re a highly sought-after aviation industry leader, a statewide economic powerhouse and an internationally recognized brand,” said Director Gonzál. ….I’m grateful to have met with our counterparts in Tampa, with interested international parties, and with our federal partners who continue to offer invaluable assistance at home and abroad as MIA builds on its successes and meets the challenges that come with enhancing our position as a leading global gateway.”
Airport Directors, who find the time to do things MORE (in addition to) than just runway lights, answer the Mayor and speak to local PTAs (all good and necessary duties) will reap rewards in the not too distant future.
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