Connections – March 14, 2016



Dear Friends and Colleagues:

AMAC is proud to announce that USDOT Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez will be the keynote speaker at our upcoming Economic Opportunity and Policy Forum: Regional Growth through Collective Vision and Action.

Mendez is a strong AMAC friend and supporter.

As Deputy Secretary, Mendez is the Department of Transportation’s chief operating officer, responsible for day-to-day operations of the 10 modal administrations and the work of more than 55,000 USDOT employees nationwide and overseas.

He is focused on ensuring the safety and efficiency of America’s transportation system, which plays a key role in our country’s economic development.

We are delighted that he will open our Forum on Tuesday, March 22 in Washington, DC at the Renaissance DC Downtown Hotel.

We urge you to join us! The event provides a full day of professional development, business networking and opportunities to develop strategic partnerships. The attendees will include airport operators, airline executives, government officials, prime contractors and S/M/W/DBEs contractors.

Our panel discussions will provide important updates on aviation industry activities. The itinerary includes educational sessions on Doing Business with Airports; Regional Opportunities and Procurement; Navigating the Certification Process; Legislative Policy Updates, and an Economic Forecast for the Eastern Region.


Shelby M. Scales, President & CEO

Spotlight on AMAC Members Rachel and Brian Geathers

Rachel Geathers
Brian Geathers
Brian Geathers

AMAC members Rachel and Brian Geathers admit freely and gratefully that they are two very fortunate siblings.

More than 20 years ago their parents, Jerome and Carnella Geathers, founded Geathers Enterprises, Inc., a successful Charlotte, NC-based airport concession firm. Though the founders are still very active in the business, the next generation is now poised to manage and grow the company.

“Our parents built a strong foundation for us,” says Rachel, who is CEO of Geathers Enterprises, Inc. Her brother Brian, President of the firm, agrees. “It’s our job to enhance that foundation” he adds.

They are well prepared. “We’ve both worked in the business with our parents since we were teenagers,” says Rachel. “We’ve been cashiers, warehouse workers, inventory managers…we know it from the ground up.”

They are well educated. Brian has electrical engineering and IT training from North Carolina A&T State University and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Rachel has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from North Carolina A&T State University.

And, they had the savvy to gain experience in the corporate world before returning to Geathers Enterprises, Inc. Rachel spent 15 years working in sports and entertainment marketing and advertising for The Coca-Cola Company and for powerhouse advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather. Brian honed his expertise in financial management at Bank of America and in sales management at Eddie Bauer.

They say they have “big picture” plans for expanding the enterprise. For example, they just recently entered into a partnership and opened a MAC Cosmetics store in the Charlotte Airport. They are currently exploring opportunities with other airports around the country. “The sky’s the limit,” Rachel says with a smile.

They credit their membership in AMAC with helping them build a solid national network of airport business peers for both fellowship and enlightenment. “We have a very tight-knit group of airport business colleagues here in Charlotte, which gives us peace of mind. AMAC allows us to share experiences and get solutions from a wide variety of aviation industry leaders and potential new partners.”

She also acknowledges that the role AMAC plays as a voice and an advocate in national and local government for airport minority owned and operated businesses is “a critical element.”


foundation focus

dia7Summer Internships Available at Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport (DEN) wants to provide young summer job seekers with an excellent learning opportunity and a way to gain professional experience through paid internships.

Fourteen summer internship spots are available for application at  The intern salary is $15.88 per hour and the deadline to apply is April 1, 2016.

Meet some of last year’s interns at:

DEN is owned by the City and County of Denver and is the nation’s 5th busiest airport with more than 33,000 employees in city and federal government, airlines, and private companies.
To learn more about the airport visit


Legislative updates

FAA Reauthorization Bill Gets Held Up With Last-Minute Quibbles

By Martine Powers

With help from Heather Caygle, Lauren Gardner and Eric Wolff

Last-minute machinations continue to plague the Senate Commerce Committee’s FAA reauthorization bill release, but here’s one thing Politico’s Team Transpo knows for sure: The proposed passenger facility charge increase floated last week has been dropped like a hot potato. And the U.S. Travel Association is piping mad.

"The Senate was intent on advancing a balanced, bipartisan bill. As is the case in Washington, however, it's harder to do something good than to keep something good from happening," said Jonathan Grella, U.S. Travel's executive vice president of public affairs. "Travelers will now have to wait until at least the 20th anniversary of the last PFC adjustment in order to reap the benefits of updated airports and restored airline competition."

Eleventh-hour issues: Even with that issue apparently finalized, other quibbles keep preventing the committee from holding an official bill release — which they appear to have originally planned for earlier this week. One of the big sources of conflict: the length of the reauthorization. "We'd like to have a three-year bill, it's kind of our proposal, that's what we've had out there. But I think right now, we're working to get the Dems to agree to that," Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune told our Heather Caygle. "I think it may have to do with things they would like to see re-litigated sooner rather than later."

What does a Dem say to that? Lauren Gardner chatted with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to get his two cents. He said the length of the Senate's long-term FAA bill could hinge on how much it tackles issues that frustrate airline customers. "The more pro-consumer and pro-safety it is, the longer we'll accept it as the period of reauthorization," Blumenthal said, adding that he wants to see the legislation promote "clearer and more accurate disclosure" of "the plethora of charges anybody who has flown over the last two years" has seen, such as for bag fees and seat location. As for the timing, Blumenthal said that there were multiple versions of the bill floating around. But here’s one thing he’s sure of: Unlike the bill House T&I passed last month, this version has absolutely no privatization.

USER FEES PROVE UNPOPULAR: Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson thinks travelers need to pay a little more for aviation security — but lawmakers aren’t biting. "Those who use the system, as opposed to taxpayers generally, should help a little more in paying for those things," Johnson said Tuesday at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on DHS’s budget. "If these are not increased, we're going to have a real problem finding where to pay for aviation security." But legislators have made it clear in the past that they’re not interested in raising the fees that help fund TSA, especially not during an election year.

The other perspective: After the hearing, Jean Medina of Airlines for America weighed in on the issue. “One of the reasons we believe a TSA fee increase is unnecessary is that $13 billion from the last TSA increase is being diverted to deficit reduction over the next 10 years,” Medina said. “Neither airlines nor their customers need to be paying more.”

Lawmakers Grill TSA Over Longer Wait Times

By Heather Caygle

For months TSA has acknowledged that its "back to basics" screening plan, implemented after a disastrous watchdog investigation, is going to mean longer airport security lines - but that didn't stop lawmakers from roasting the agency for it recently.

Lawmakers at two House hearings - perhaps already anticipating calls from frustrated constituents - hammered TSA over the issue. TSA responded that it's doing everything it can to head off the throngs of frustrated passengers before the summer travel season kicks into gear.

"Obviously we've got a serious problem," said Georgia Republican Rep. Buddy Carter, pointing to the snaking security lines at one of the world's busiest airports, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

"I have to stand in those lines at the Atlanta airport and they are just terribly long. And we've got to have some relief here," he added.

The TSA's new screening plan, implemented following a blistering government watchdog report that highlighted dangerous security gaps - including the agency's failure to detect mock bombs and weapons - has already meant doubled wait times.

But while the average passenger now waits about six minutes to get through screening compared to last year's three-minute average, those travelers are much safer, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger told lawmakers.

"Part of the problem we had was we were actually moving people very effectively through the system but we weren't actually doing our job well," he said.

Since assuming TSA's top post last July, Neffenger, previously a Coast Guard vice admiral, has tried to change the agency's culture, partly by refocusing the mission of frontline screeners.

"I don't want transportation security officers managing wait times," he said. "I want them focusing on their mission."

But lawmakers and airport managers say with summer travel on the horizon, the lines are worrisome, especially since the nation's biggest airports can have wait times far longer than the current six minute average.

The manager of Atlanta's airport sent a letter to Neffenger in mid-February sounding the alarm about "inadequate TSA staffing" at Hartsfield-Jackson and the potential impact it could have in the coming months.

Hartsfield-Jackson "struggled with TSA staffing shortfalls in 2015, and the airport is dreading the outcome of summer 2016," wrote Aviation General Manager Miguel Southwell.

Despite a 7.5 percent increase in TSA staffing that was "late and inadequate," Southwell said, passengers were still waiting nearly an hour to get through the security checkpoint at times.

"Things only appear to be getting worse," Southwell said, adding airport management is considering private screeners.

Neffenger says the agency is well aware of the looming problem and is taking several steps now to soften the blow.

Following the inspector general report last year, Neffenger halted a plan to reduce the screener workforce after years of staffing cuts totaling around 6,000 employees. Also, the White House's fiscal 2017 budget request includes funding to add more than 300 screeners.

In addition, Neffenger said he's talked about the issue with the leaders of every major airline, last week held a conference call with leaders from the top 20 airports, and plans to fly to Atlanta next week to meet with the airport director.

TSA is also front-loading its hiring to get more screeners on the job. And, it's adding classes at the agency's training academy in Georgia, Neffenger said.

Still, some travelers are likely to find themselves stuck in a long line during the steamy summer months.

"Now that you're aware of the problems, by summer you will have those problems addressed?" asked House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).

"We'll address them. I'm not saying we're going to get it perfect across the board because I think we're still going to have some challenges," Neffenger responded. "I think you're still going to see some increased wait times."


aviation news

Charlotte Airport Makes Room for More Airlines with Expansion

Ted Reed
Forbes Contributor

American Airlines has a 93% market share at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, but that doesn’t mean other airlines don’t want to grow.

Last week, the airport took an early step on a $200 million construction project intended to add nine gates to a 13-gate concourse that is used primarily by non-hub carriers. The project will be completed in 2018.

“We’ve had a lot of requests for additional facilities” from carriers besides American, said Jack Christine, deputy aviation director. “There’s no room to grow. There hasn’t been a new concourse built here since 1999.”

The extension of Concourse A is a part of a planned $2.5 billion ten-year improvement project that follows on a just completed $1.8 billion project. Charlotte Douglas is the eighth busiest U.S. airport with a 2015 total of 44.9 million passengers, up 1% from the previous year.

Of the total, about 11.5 million passengers were “origin and destination” passengers, whose travel begins and ends in Charlotte, up from 10.4 million O & D passengers in 2013.  Christine said the increase primarily reflects growth in the Charlotte region’s population and economy.

Revved Up Sea-Tac Prepares for Takeoff

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was the fastest-growing major airport in the United States last year, continuing a red-hot streak that matches the economy of the region it serves.
Consider that during 2014-2015, Sea-Tac saw an additional 7 million passengers, matching the previous decade’s increase. A total of 42 million passengers used the airport last year. By 2034, that number could reach 66 million.

No wonder that a top priority for commissioners and officials at the Port of Seattle, which runs the airport, is examining how it must expand to accommodate growth and keep up with the competition.

The Port is working on a Sustainable Airport Master Plan to guide the work in intervals of five, 10 and 20 years. Two decades for complex infrastructure can pass very quickly for the unprepared.

June's passenger traffic at the airport was a record-setting 4+ million and July is projected to be even higher, straining services and creating long lines. These August 20th, 2015 morning travelers wait at the Hawaiian Airlines Ticket booth.
June's passenger traffic at the airport was a record-setting 4+ million and July is projected to be even higher, straining services and creating long lines. These August 20th, 2015 morning travelers wait at the Hawaiian Airlines Ticket booth.


amac news

GSA Teams with SBA to Increase Support to Small Businesses

The U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) success in supporting women-owned small businesses was recently highlighted at a press conference hosted by the Small Business Administration.

It was announced that in Fiscal Year 2015, GSA exceeded its small business goal of 32% by awarding 44% of spend to small business, including an 46.69% increase in awards to women-owned small businesses in commercial and institutional building construction.

“Support for women-owned small businesses is one of GSA’s top priorities, inclusive of identifying opportunities and leveraging them through to successful contract award,” GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth commented.

“It is crucial to ensure the health and growth of women-owned small businesses. GSA is ideally situated to drive this effort. Our Office of Small Business Utilization has tailored straightforward, simple guidelines for small businesses to follow so that they may access the full range of relevant categories within the federal acquisition process. While there is always more we can and must do, I am proud that GSA is meeting its women-owned small business goals, supporting this vital sector nationwide,” she noted

In FY15, there were 17,442 Actions and $347 Million put forth in women-owned small business contracts, a 10.43% spending increase. Highlights of increases from FY14 to FY15 include:

  • Awards to women-owned small businesses in Commercial and Institutional Building Construction from $78.1M to $114.6M
  • The number of awards to women-owned small businesses identified as African American, Asian-Pacific American, Native American, and other minorities
  • The amount of dollars awarded to Hispanic American women-owned small businesses
  • The total number of repeat women-owned small business vendors totaling 4,054

GSA is an independent agency of the U.S. government whose mission is to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government and the American people.

Francis Named Director at OAK

Bryant FrancisBryant Francis, the director of Long Beach (LGB), will take over as director of aviation at Oakland International (OAK) on March 31, 2016. The 20-year aviation industry veteran replaces Deborah Ale Flint, who left OAK in June 2015 to become CEO of Los Angeles World Airports.

Francis has led LGB since January 2015. He was previously director of airports in Shreveport, La., and he also served in executive capacities at airports in Boise, Detroit and Palm Springs.

“This is an incredible opportunity in a dynamic growth market, and I am honored to have been selected as the Port’s new director of aviation,” said Francis. “I’m very familiar with the role Oakland International Airport plays in the Bay Area and look forward to working with the talented staff to lead the airport to even greater levels of success.”

OAK is in the midst of the second phase of its Terminal 1 complex modernization project, a $100 million effort that includes seismic retrofit architectural improvements and various customer environment upgrades. The airport has been seeing strong traffic growth recently, with an 8.4 percent increase in 2015.

Francis was selected from more than 100 candidates in a nationwide search and will lead a staff of 216 responsible for the operation of the San Francisco Bay Area’s second-busiest airport.

“We’re excited about Bryant’s arrival in Oakland,” said Chris Lytle, executive director at the Port of Oakland. “His selection was based on a combination of his professional background and skill, vision for Oakland International Airport, and fit as a member of the Port’s Executive Management Team.”

During his short tenure at LGB, Francis was involved in the citywide debate on whether the airport should host international flights. City officials are also involved in an effort to increase the number of flights at the slot-controlled airport, a move that has been opposed by neighborhood groups due to noise concerns.

The city of Long Beach said it will conduct a nationwide search for Francis’ successor, “considering both internal and external candidates who choose to apply.” Upon his departure, the city manager will appoint an interim director to lead LGB until the selection process is complete.

Concession Opportunity Available at SFO

San Francisco International Airport has begun the Request for Proposals (RFP) process for the Terminal 3 Retail Marketplace Lease. The concept sought is to build out one Lease space into a retail marketplace featuring multiple product category zones such as newsstand items, fashion accessories, confections, beverages, and gifts.

An informational conference to review the RFP and to answer questions about the Retail Marketplace concept is scheduled for Tuesday, March 29, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. in the Terminal 2 Partnering Conference Room, at San Francisco International Airport.

At this meeting Airport staff will explain the selection process, and discuss the desired concept, minimum qualification requirements, and address any questions relating to this Lease.

The Lease is intended for the management and operation of one retail location totaling approximately 5,200 square feet in Terminal 3. The proposed minimum acceptable financial offer is $1,500,000.00, which will be the successful Proposer’s minimum annual guarantee for the first year of the Lease.

The proposed term is seven years with two one-year options. Small and local businesses are encouraged to participate.

Additional information and related documents may be obtained on-line at

For a printed copy of the RFP document or if you would like additional information about this concession opportunity, please contact Scott Blood at Revenue Development and Management, at (650) 821-4500.

membership corner


AMAC Philly Membership Event Achieves Goal

A recent event hosted by AMAC Membership Committee Co-Chair Erin Zwiercan, owner of Jack Duggan’s Pub at Philadelphia’s International Airport, achieved the goal it was aiming for:  a number of guests were inspired to sign up on-site to take advantage of all that AMAC membership has to offer.

“We planned the event to promote AMAC and the value of membership and we got results immediately,” says Zwiercan.  “The speakers’ enthusiasm was contagious.”
Held at the Philadelphia Airport’s Marriott Hotel, the event drew more than 60 guests including the Mayor’s Diversity Officer Jovida Hill and Councilmen Kenyatta Johnson and Al Taubenburger, among other community leaders.

Speakers at the event included James Tyrell, Deputy Director of Property and Management and Business Development for the airport; Mel Hannah, Vice President and General Manager of MarketPlace PHL LLC  and Vice President of LeJeune & Associates, a retail development, management and consulting firm;  AMAC member Iris Goldschmidt and Bobby Nix of Pleasant News, Inc., an entrepreneur with several  successful airport joint venture enterprises.

Photo from Erin's Philadelphia event
Pictured here at the Philadelphia AMAC membership event are, from left, Kenneth Adams, Anthony Barnes, Kenyatta Johnson, Erin Zwiercan, James Tyrell, Al Taubenberger and Mel Hannah.

AMAC’s Joanne Brooks Named Best Surety Executive by MWMCA

Joanne BrooksAMAC member Joanne Brooks, Vice President and Counsel of The Surety & Fidelity Association of America (SFAA), has been named by the Md. Washington Minority Companies Association (MWMCA) as “Best Surety Executive for Minority Business.”

SFAA is a rating, advisory, statistical, and trade association licensed in all states which performs a leadership role in promoting and preserving the use of fidelity and surety bonds to protect public and private interests.

Brooks’ new honor will be formally announced at the MWMCA 13th Annual 2016 Spring Breakfast Meeting/Business Showcase Expo planned for 7:30 am Friday, May 13, at Martin's West, 6817 Dogwood Road, Baltimore, MD 21244.

"Joanne Brooks has a strong passion for helping minority and women-owned companies succeed, says Wayne R. Frazier, Sr., MWMCA President. “Often these are first time business owners that need to prepare themselves for surety bonding.  Joanne through her industry wide connections is an excellent source for that."


The AMAC Job Board is a nationwide listing of active and upcoming job openings at governments and contractors across the country. If you represent a public or private organization that would like to post an open position, please contact us at

For job postings click here.


The AMAC Bid Board is a nationwide listing of active and upcoming bid opportunities at governments across the country. If you represent a government organization that would like to post opportunities, please contact us at

For bid opportunities click here.