Dick Devos was appointed to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Management Advisory Council in September of 2017. The decision came after years of Devos working alongside the CEO of Gerald R. Ford International Airport, but it was unexpected to Devos who has been enjoying the life of being an American entrepreneur and a political support of his wife, the 11th and newest US Education Secretary, Betsy Devos.
Devos joined the council because he saw a good opportunity to help the FAA with plans to change policies and set up new regulations. This comes after criticism from President Trump early on in his administration, when he challenged the FAA to be more innovative. This challenge led to the formation of the council, which comprises 13 members from transportation authority and airline executive backgrounds. While Devos is neither, he has more experience in certain areas that pertain to investment, equity, growth commerce, and so forth.
The appointment was praised by the CEO of Southwest and the CEO of Gerald R. Ford International Airport, both of whom had worked with Devos in the past. In fact, it was through Devos that the two had actually met in the early 2000s. The airport had re-launched in 1999 to poor ticket sales. People generally weren’t choosing to fly into or out of the airport because it was old and didn’t really have any need to go there. That would all change with Dick Devos helping the city.
It started with a few buildings. The Devos Family Foundation worked with business leaders to build up the downtown area of the city, including a new performing arts center and convention center. Later, in 1999, Devos began working with the airport to bring in new flights. He started by calling the CEO of AirTran Airways, who immediately opened up new destinations. The new flights included Vegas, Denver, St. Louis, and Orlando. This was the start of a great business traveler boom. These business travelers were unlike others, in that they always were looking for new conventions and it was also the perfect place to fly out of due to its lower ticket prices.
Eventually the airport would need an expansion. Devos stepped in and helped bring the airlines together to support a $45 million renovation project. This renovation would create a business traveler center, as well as new upgrades in the food court and several terminals.
It was this action and expansion that ultimately made Devos a legend in the aviation industry. He had turned an airport around in a matter of years and he had expanded it to the point that it was larger than before with a whole new revenue stream that supported the city’s growth. It was this type of move that the FAA wanted to see in action for its latest policies and recommendations for growth.
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