Connections – May 23, 2016

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Michael SvagdisDear Friends and Colleagues:

Pulitzer Prize winner Maya Angelou extolled the virtues of diversity when she wrote that in diversity there is strength. Her powerful words ring true for this year’s AMAC conference. A diverse industry will only yield a stronger industry; an industry fortified by strong strategic partnerships and inclusion. 

AMAC and its annual conference play an important role in ensuring our continued progress toward achieving a truly diverse industry. Attendance at the conference sends a strong signal that not only does the industry collectively support AMAC, but we stand by their important mission and work.

I couldn’t be more proud to serve as the National Conference Chair and strongly encourage every industry leader to register early for this year’s Business Diversity Conference. By registering early, you can do your part to help us plan effectively and develop three days of professional and small business networking opportunities, educational sessions, legislative policy updates and economic forecasts.

The conference will truly will be an opportunity to further one’s career while making a lasting contribution to the industry.


Michael Svagdis
Chief Executive Officer
SSP America

spotlight on AMAc's member oscar lewis

ThumbnailWith breathtaking aplomb and focus, AMAC member Oscar Lewis has built a brilliant life and career around his childhood dream of success in the aviation industry. An inventor who has been awarded U.S. Patents, he is president and founder of North Carolina-based The Lewis Company, a global transportation and airport engineering firm.  His vision and company’s strategic mission is to provide industry-leading logistics and aviation engineering services for customers worldwide.

“I was born into the space age in the 1960s,” Lewis says.  “As a child in the little town of Forest Home, AL, I was fascinated by astronauts Glenn, Aldrin, Shepherd, Schirra and Grissom landing on the Moon or orbiting the Earth.  I reveled in science fiction and as I watched jets fly by overhead, I knew I wanted to be a part of the world above the ground.”

With unwavering determination, Lewis joined the Air Force ROTC, majored in computer information systems, and was consistently on the Dean’s List at Alabama State University. He learned to fly in college.

A U.S. Air Force four-year academic scholarship ‘‘Distinguished Graduate’’ and a commissioned officer, he went on to serve as Squadron Commander, Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, Texas.  Lewis made history when he broke all training records in completing Air Traffic Control School in less than half the academic training time. Over the past 20 years he has established himself through challenging assignments as well as training, certifying, and promoting air traffic controllers around the world.

Lewis provided air traffic control procedure expertise in investigating over 87 aircraft mishaps and near midair collisions.  His leadership is credited for five official aircraft save awards.  He was recognized worldwide for managing the ‘Best Air Traffic Control Complex in the World, 1988’ in support of the Seoul Summer Olympics. And, as an IBM systems engineer and marketing representative, he helped engineer and build our nation’s current air traffic control system.

His crowning achievement as an aviation pioneer thus far, however, has been his patented Smart Runway System.  “The system reduces airport congestion and departure delays.  Land and water-locked airports can once again expand services without the inconvenience of relocating communities and businesses,” says Lewis. “Airports achieve up to a 35 percent traffic count increase (15 additional flights per hour) on an existing runway.”

The landmark invention was recently tested at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Oscar worked closely with Phoenix FAA Tower, Arizona State University, American Airlines and the City of Phoenix in evaluating Smart Runway. Results well exceed expectations!  Using Smart Runway, Phoenix Airport reduced aircraft Time-On-Runway from 51 seconds to a new 27 seconds. “A remarkable 47 percent performance increase!” he notes with pride.
Testing continues around the country as airport managers worldwide buy into Smart Runway.  “Everywhere I go, airport traffic controllers want to discuss how the technology can work for them,” Lewis adds, smiling.

A committed Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) supporter, Lewis has encouraged thousands of students, through school visits, air base tours and outreach events, to pursue careers in these disciplines and to consider a future in aviation.

Lewis has been a member of AMAC since 1992.  “This organization has been good to me,” he says.  “It gets you close to the people who can make significant aviation decisions.  It brings together leaders from a wide range of industry fields to develop solution-oriented concepts that work for everyone.”

foundation focus

Stirring “Thank You” Letter Stresses the Value of AMAC’s Project LIFT

A heartfelt “thank you” letter from the administrators and staff of Davis Aerospace Technical High School in Detroit reinforced the value of exposing young people to the possibilities of careers in the airport industry.

On April 20, Detroit Metropolitan Airport and the AMAC Foundation presented an exciting program for youth as part of the two-day Great Lakes Regional Forum.

During the course of the Project LIFT (Leaders Inspiring Future Talent) event, a group of 25 students from Davis Aerospace Technical High School heard stirring speakers encourage them to dream big; interacted with a new group of industry professionals—across a variety of airport and aviation disciplines—every 15 minutes in a “speed dating” format; and toured DTW’s airfield, maintenance complex, public safety building and more.

In addition, four college-bound Davis students, who plan to pursue careers in aviation, received a total of $10,000 in scholarships.

The letter that followed noted that the experience at the Forum strongly affected the students.  It “impacted their future and gave them a ray of hope for their tomorrow.”

“The students were excited about the tour through the airport and they were excited about the things they learned while talking to the Career representatives at the speed dating tables. Micheal Williams, said, ‘I can stay here all night’ ….meaning he felt energized and ready to take on the world because of seeing new horizons,” read the letter.

“We personally believe that it was a turning point for a lot of our students,” the Davis staff members noted.


AMAC Seeks Applications for Scholarship Awards

The AMAC foundation is issuing a call for applications from college bound and college students seeking scholarship support.

Since 1998, The AMAC Foundation has awarded over $300,000 in scholarships to college students. The scholarships are awarded in three categories.  The first is an Aviation and Professional Development Scholarship awarded to a student who demonstrates and interest and desire to pursue a career in the aviation/airport industry and who is seeking a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts degree in Aviation, Business Administration, Accounting, Architecture, Engineering, or Finance.

The second category is an AMAC Member Award which is granted to a student who is a current AMAC member or a family member or mentee of an AMAC member.

The third category is Scholarships in Memoriam.  The Charlotte Trade Foundation has established the PJ & Dietra Benton and Bernie Johnson Memorial Scholarships in honor of their loved ones and close business partners at the Charlotte Airport. These longtime AMAC members were dedicated to scholarship, business leadership, and encouraging the success of fellow DBEs.  The AMAC Foundation is proud to honor their legacy by supporting student scholars.



Legislative Update

House Panel to Hold Hearing on Long Airport Lines

As anger over massive airport lines nears a boiling point, a House panel is planning a hearing next week on how Congress can help ease soaring airport wait times this summer.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said his panel will hold a hearing ahead of Memorial Day weekend.


Aviation News

New York’s LaGuardia Borrows Big for Facelift

New York is about to find out whether it’s possible to build a 35-gate terminal at LaGuardia Airport around the existing one without disrupting operations or becoming plagued by cost overruns and delays.

To finance construction at the airport in Queens, a group created by Swedish construction company Skanska AB, Canadian airport operator Vantage Airport Group and France’s Meridiam sold $2.4 billion of debt Tuesday in the biggest offering of municipal bonds since March. The group, which has put up $200 million in equity for the $4 billion project, has guaranteed it will be finished on-budget in six years.


Philadelphia AirportPhiladelphia's Terminal B to be Transformed by Retail/F&B Revamp

The dining and retail experience at Philadelphia International Airport's Terminal B is to be transformed from the ground up, according to the US gateway.

It says that capital investment of more than $30 million will transform Terminal B, one of five terminals operated by American Airlines, with the introduction of chef-driven dining and thousands of iPads.


New Airport Security Lane Design Tests Automation

With extremely long airport security lines frustrating travelers, could an automated system to move bins help to speed screening and shorten wait times at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport?

That’s what Transportation Security Administration and Delta Air Lines officials plan to test in a few weeks when they unveil two newly-designed security lanes that will feature RFID (radio frequency identification) technology.

Read More Here:




AMAC 2016 Board of Directors Nominations Sought

There is still time to participate in the 2016 Board of Directors Campaign and Election process! Please be advised, that the nomination period will be closing on May 25th, 2016. This period is an opportunity to vote for AMAC leadership and help frame the future of the organization.

As a voting member, your initial impact on the direction, goals and initiatives of AMAC is in the election process.  Whether standing for office yourself, nominating a viable candidate, supporting a nominee, or simply making certain that your vote is counted, participation in the election process is not only an opportunity, it is also a responsibility.

Open Positions                                                                                 

  1. Board Chairman
  2. Second Vice Chair
  3. Regional Director- Western (1)
  4. Regional Director - Southeast (1)
  5. Regional Director- Southwest (1)
  6. Regional Director- Eastern (1)

FAA National Civil Rights Training Conference Planned

FAA Office of Civil Rights has issued an invitation to aviation industry professionals to “Save the Date” -- September 7-9 -- for their 7th Annual FAA National Civil Rights Training Conference for Airports.

Held at Holiday Inn Capitol, 550 C Street, SW, Washington, DC, These FREE sessions by Government and Industry experts provide updates and hands-on training relating to:

  • Disability and Accessibility Requirements
  • Race/Color/National Origin Non-Discrimination
  • Environmental Justice
  • Limited English Proficiency
  • Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

For more information contact: Lori Pierce, phone (202) 267-0224 or email

RDU Airport Authority to Unveil Fall RFPs at Outreach Event

The Raleigh/Durham Airport Authority is inviting business owners to a special outreach event, July 14th to network and learn more about upcoming concessions RFP opportunities.

Retail Operators, ATM Currency Operators, ACDBE Companies and Food & Snack Vending Operators are encouraged to attend.

To register email


membership corner

Join AMAC or Renew Your Membership Now

The AMAC team would like to say a big, hearty thank you to all our new and returning AMAC members.  You give us wings!  View a list of recently renewed members here.

We want to encourage all who have not yet renewed or joined to board as soon as possible and register for AMAC Airports Business Diversity Conference held August 19-23 in Cleveland, OH with your member discount. Click here for Membership.

Camilles-DFWCamille’s Brings Treats To DFW Terminal E

Camille’s Hand Dipped Ice Cream Bars has made its debut in Terminal E of Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW). It is the first airport location to be operated by franchisee Odeh-Mickens DFW Concessions.

Located near Gate 13, Camille’s offers freshly made ice cream, yogurt and blended fruit bars. Passengers can then choose from a variety of coatings and toppings. The concept also offers other on-the-go items like salads, sandwiches, parfaits, coffee and roasted nuts.

“We make ice cream, yogurt and sorbet bars daily in the store by our own ice cream chef,” says Anita Sears, director of non-traditional development. “Passengers are always in a hurry, and the Camille’s system allows us to deliver their customized creation in 30 seconds.”

LaTrelle's Pinks PizzaLaTrelle’s Adds Four New Restaurants at IAH

A handful of new dining choices are now available to travelers through Houston Bush Intercontinental (IAH). LaTrelle’s Management Corporation has opened two Peet’s Coffee locations, a Wendy’s and local concept Pink’s Pizza.

While LaTrelle’s has opened multiple locations of both Peet’s and Wendy’s before, Pink’s Pizza is a new concept for the company and for the airport. A local Houston concept, the new-to-airports Pink’s will offer hand-tossed pizzas, a full breakfast menu and a bar packed with craft beers, imports and specialty cocktails.

“Innovation is a value we hold dear at LaTrelle’s,” says Wally James, LaTrelle’s chief operating officer. “Twenty years ago, we were the first to bring Wendy’s and Subway to an airport. Since that time we’ve introduced a lot of great restaurants to airports, including Buffalo Wild Wings, Bullritos, and now Pink’s.”


jobs Board

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.

bid Board

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.