An airport manager's job is to keep people moving in the right direction.
That means decreasing flight delays as much as possible.
Airport managers handle everything from signing leases with airlines and
concessionaires to meeting safety regulations. They prepare for emergencies
and deal with foul weather. They also plan for the future growth of their
airports. And they make sure the books stay in the black.
Across America, airport managers are dealing with stricter safety rules
put in place to prevent terrorism. While these rules have created headaches
for managers, most agree with their intent.
Larry Adams is an airport manager. "Fencing and controlled access gates
are being placed at airports of almost all sizes," he says. Managers must
oversee the construction.
"The [safety] rules have always been there, there's just been more emphasis
placed on them by the FAA," says Adams. The rules, he adds, create an "awful
lot more work."
Managers work for private airports or cities or towns. They may run passenger
airports, cargo airfields or sites that handle both. While many are licensed
pilots, it's not always a requirement for the job. When large airports go
searching for someone to oversee operations, they are often more interested
in finding someone with management experience.
Airport managers often deal with routine items -- deciding how many parking
spaces an airport should have or how much taxi space. They also make sure
the airport doesn't exceed noise limits or fly past curfew hours set to limit
disturbances to neighbors. Baggage handling, newsstands and even shoe shining
shops are all under their control.
Managers often report to airport committees or oversight groups. These
boards usually have the final say in many decisions -- but a strong manager
can help an airport grow by justifying the expense of improvements to private
or public investors.
Airport managers with environmental and ecological education are especially
desirable. "That is becoming really, really big," says Adams. "Particularly
in the areas of storm water management, noise pollution and air quality."
According to Adams, airport managers only started dealing with these issues
regularly in the early '90s. But today, environmental knowledge is imperative.
The added workload for managers, notes Adams, means greater pay. Adams
has had to attend seminars and professional meetings to learn the environmental
aspects of airport management.