Dick Devos has been working in Washington alongside the FAA. He was appointed to the agency’s Management Advisory Council in September 2017. As the last member of the 13-strong council, his nomination was praised by those within the aviation industry. This includes praise from the CEO of Southwest airlines and the CEO of Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
So when did Dick Devos start dabbling in aviation? Well, he’s always had a passion for the industry. He’s an avid pilot, and he has co-founded a pilot training school with his wife Betsy Devos, the 11th US Secretary of Education. Previously to that, he had run for governor in Michigan, but he had not shown much political interest.
Now that he is working in Washington, people have begun to notice that the Devos’ work well together as a team and always support each other. The Devos Family Foundation has donated over $134 million to different causes, particularly in their home state. They have always been active with the Republican Party and continue to make contributions.
However, Devos was appointed to the FAA because he is well known for a legendary business move that he made to ensure the financial prosperity of his hometown. Throughout the 1990s, Dick Devos was famous for helping out businesses in Grand Rapids with ideas, plans, and funding. He worked with the committee called Grand Action to put a lot of those plans to work. This led to the formation of the Devos Place Convention Center, Devos Performance Hall, and Andel Arena.
They were effectively changing the face of the small town into something that was going to grow rapidly and be prosperous for everyone. Devos saw that the airport could help with that dream by bringing in business travelers. Being a business leader himself, Devos knew that a savvy airport was all that he needed to help build in his hometown. By 2018, the airport had grown so much that it needed a $45 million renovation, which was paid for by the airlines at the airport.
Devos had been working with Gerald R. Ford International Airport since 1999. At the time, he wanted to help the airport bring in new sales. He started talking to AirTran Airways CEO about the prospects available if the airline were to open up new terminals and destinations. AirTran agreed and opened up terminals to St. Louis, Denver, Orlando, and Vegas.
This led to a boom in the airport’s growth that only seemed to grow as they added on more terminals and extras. It’s this kind of experience and growth that the FAA would like to see for other airports. So Devos has been working with the council over a year. They meet once every quarter to discuss budgets, policies, regulations, future growth, and other ideas.
The FAA has made some considerable changes to policies in 2018, and it will likely continue throughout 2019 and 2020. The FAA has had trouble in the past as it tries to balance new waves of technology with security and stabilization of the market. It’s been a difficult road, but with Dick Devos and 12 other members from transportation authority backgrounds and airline executives, it will be hard not to make the right decisions for America’s historical industry.
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