Posted on Centerlines Blog on Oct 15 by Jane Calderwood
Salt Lake City Airport Director Maureen Riley, chair of the 2011 Government Affairs Committee, gave the ACI-NA Board an update this afternoon on the committee’s activities. She prefaced her remarks by noting that the board had established a healthy list of legislative priorities for the year that ranged from FAA reauthorization to the Alternative Minimum Tax waiver.
A consistent theme in her comments was the key role ACI-NA members played in the government affairs activities throughout the year. In particular, she highlighted the successful efforts of airports, World Business Partners and Associates, commissioners and the media and communications committee in getting Congress to end the FAA shutdown. She said the organization “lived up” to our moniker: “The Voice of Airports.”
Riley explained that the battle plan formulated to combat the shutdown ensured that no stone would be left unturned in the effort to get the FAA back up and running. The plan began with calling on airports across the country to reach out not only to their congressional delegations but to their local media as well, in order to get across the facts about the true impact of the shutdown on airports and their communities. This put a “face” on the shutdown and it worked as members of Congress told specific stories about their local airports when they spoke on the floor of the House and Senate.
In Washington, the staff worked to ensure the issue remained a focus for Congress as well as for the press. The strategy on press was twofold: keep the airports’ story in front of the Washington press by providing insider information on what Congress was doing, due to our strong relationships with the committees and House and Senate leadership offices; and sharing the stories of individual airports.
Social Media played a large part in the plan with ACI-NA tweeting every local airport story they could find on the web, as well as up to the minute congressional action, and statements by members of Congress on the House and Senate floor. Riley noted the tweeting was particularly effective, as the 14 day shutdown.
She ended her update by noting that the organization is on record in favor of a two year extension because at this point it appears unlikely that Congress can reach agreement on the unresolved issues facing the authorization bill: National Mediation Board; slots; and authorization levels.