Dick DeVos Works with FAA on New Tech for Airports

Ever since the DeVos family started to work in politics, many have wondered about their intentions. The 11th US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been working on education reform, while her husband has been meeting with the Management Advisory Council for the Federal Aviation Administration. Why does DeVos want to be on this council? For one, he has always been a fan of aviation, but he was appointed to the council due to his experience with revamping airports.


There are many who say that DeVos is responsible for the Grand Rapids airport being placed on the map. In the past year, the airport received 3.26 million passengers, which is the most that the airport had ever seen. It wasn’t even projected to reach 3 million passengers until 2020. It’s especially surprising considering that the airport had been around since the early 1900s. However, it only recently became the Gerald R. Ford International Airport after 2001.


What’s the cause for all of this growth?


Dick DeVos made a phone call in the early 2000s to the CEO of AirTran Airways. AirTran had several terminals at the small local airport in Grand Rapids. It didn’t have much traffic, and it was hardly making any ticket sales at the time. DeVos had been working on a plan to change the economy around in Grand Rapids. He wanted the airport to be apart of that plan by bringing in new businesses and business travelers.


He started by talking to the CEO about adding new flights. He talked to him about his plan for the airport, and how if these specific flights were added, he knew that they would be able to turn the airport around and bring more business to Grand Rapids. After all, DeVos had just finished building up the downtown area with a performance hall and convention center.


The plan worked. When AirTran Airways added the new flights to Las Vegas, Denver, Orlando, and St. Louis, travelers were eager to buy tickets. Sales went sky-high, and DeVos was remembered for his business savvy plans. Fast forward a few decades later, the airport has received awards for its growth and technological advancements. This is all thanks to the Gateway Transformation Project.


In addition, DeVos looked out for the airport and made other phone calls to support its growth. For example, he worked with the CEO of Southwest to keep all of its terminals open even as the company was taking over AirTran Airways.


DeVos is still working with the local airport, but he is also in Washington, working with his wife and the FAA. The Management Advisory Council meets every quarter to discuss plans for policies, budgets, regulations, and new growth ideas for the aviation industry. While the council is only a civilian board, the FAA relies on their advice to create new policies and help with innovative new ideas.


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