For many years, DeVos has worked alongside the aviation industry. His work has taken him into the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, where he has helped the CEO bring in new terminals and expand offerings, allowing the airport to go through a new $45 million renovation deal. It’s these actions that put him in prime spot to be on the FAA’s new Management Advisory Council. With 13 members, it is one of the larger civilian-led groups that will advise a government agency. The FAA has been looking to resolve some of the issues that have plagued the aviation industry for many years, including a lack of new technology and employment problems.
DeVos has seen the ups and downs of the airline industry himself. He has worked with the CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport for many years. While the airport has been around since the early 1900s, it re-launched in 1999 and received support from DeVos to add on new lines. DeVos spoke with the CEO of Air Tran Airways at the time to add on new flights. The airport was struggling to bring in new traffic as it did not have some of the same stops and flights for international business travelers as nearby airports.
Air Tran Airways agreed to open new terminals that would take travelers to areas like Orlando, Denver, St. Louis, and Vegas. The new terminals were a great success and provided much needed growth to the airport. However, there were more issues when Southwest took over Air Tran Airways in the late 2010s. At this time, the airport needed more help in maintaining the terminals that were getting closed down in other parts of the US due to the takeover. DeVos talked to the CEO about keeping the terminals and even showed him what the expansion had done for the airline and the airport.
The CEO of Southwest agreed and decided to keep open all of the new terminals that the airline had opened previously. Soon after, DeVos worked with the airlines to put together a great deal that would lead to a $45 million renovation that would re-build the various areas of the airport that needed to be updated. The renovations will be finished by the end of 2018.
In addition to the business side of the airport, DeVos has also been a co-founder of the aviation academy on the Gerald R. Ford Airport grounds. The academy trains pilots and allows students to go on to work in the aviation industry. This gives DeVos some interesting insights into how airlines can get new employees who are trained pilots and can operate the various aircraft necessary for today’s air travelers.
The council meets once every three months. DeVos has been on the council since September 2017 and has already helped the FAA with a number of different projects.
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