Airport Business

FEB-MAR 2018

The airport professional's source for airport industry news, articles, events, and careers.

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EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW 38 airportbusiness February/March 2018 By Benét Wilson New Businesses Help Colorado Springs Airport Grow Colorado Springs Aviation Director Greg Phillips shows how the airport continues to grow. Past jobs include airport director for Pangborn Memorial Airport in East Wenatchee, Wash., deputy director of Missoula International Airport and airport manager for the Bend Municipal Airport, where he was named Oregon State Airport Manager of the Year in 2006. Phillips has an engineering degree from West Point and served as a helicopter pilot and Army Ranger. After leaving the military, he worked as an engineering proj- ect manager for Boeing and an engineer and project manager at the FAA's Airports Division, where he was responsible for public airport construction and grant funding for all of the public airports in Oregon. He also served as the deputy program manager for the FAA project team overseeing the design and construction of Denver International Airport. In his current job, Phillips manages, plans and direct airport operations, maintenance, construction, economic development, marketing and long-term plan- ning activities. He spoke to Airport Business magazine about the rise, fall and rise of the airport, competition with Denver International Airport, traffic growth in the region and why it has become a magnet for aviation and aerospace businesses. Airport Business: You came on the job in January. What was so appealing to you about this job? Greg Phillips: I've been in the Northwest moun- tain region pretty much all my career, so I have always been intrigued and impressed with Colorado. When the Colorado Springs job came open as the second-busiest airport in Colorado, it had a lot of appeal to me. When I started my career in airports after I left the FAA, I made a list of airports I thought might interest me as a career and Colorado Springs was on that list. So I was tickled when the job came open and they were foolish enough to pick me. It's been fun ever since. AB: In 1995, Colorado Springs Airport became the home of start-up carrier Western Pacific Airlines. The airport's traffic grew and it expanded to accommodate that growth. When the airline shut down three years later, how was the airport able to recover? GP: At that time, Western Pacific, one of, if not the first, ultra-low cost carriers, provided service to 35 cities here. During that time, the airport grew rapidly and it was largely in response to that demand. In the forensics that we've done, we were at 2.4 million passengers. So with that, they built the existing terminal and had to build what we call the East Terminal unit, which had an additional four gates. All that was great at the time, but clearly, it was an unsustainable financial model and sadly, they went bankrupt. Since then, it's not been a pretty story in Colorado Springs. Some of that coincided with the opening of Denver International Airport and some arm wrestling among the carriers up in Denver about hub- bing and pricing. Once those things got settled, that's when Colorado Springs started to suffer. We couldn't match the prices at Denver. There's the larger catch- ment area and its' significantly more number of flights. The airlines started to pay more attention to Denver than to Colorado Springs. AB: In March, Frontier Airlines announced 11 new year-round and seasonal routes in 10 cities across the U.S., including flights to seven cities out of Colorado Springs. Why do you think your airport got so many of those flights? GP: It's always hard for an airport to see behind the curtain what's really going on at an airline. In G reg Phillips became aviation director of Colorado Springs Airport on Jan. 30, 2017. He came from Colorado's Eagle County Regional Airport, where he served five years as the executive director of aviation.

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