Five questions with Scott Hinderman | Opinion | Journal Gazette

Aviation
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1 We always hear the holiday season is the busiest for air travel – was that the case over the Thanksgiving holiday and does it appear it will be busy over Christmas and New Year’s?

The Fort Wayne International Airport and its airline partners are ready to handle holiday travelers. We generally see an average of 62,000 passengers per month, and we welcome the opportunity to serve those passengers who will be traveling during the holidays to visit family and friends. It is truly a joy to see passengers reunited with loved ones when they arrive in our terminal. Because of the extra activity during the holidays, I would encourage passengers to show up earlier than they normally would because of the traffic volume.

2 In recent years, Fort Wayne International has been breaking records for passenger numbers – has the trend continued this year?

We are up 3.39 percentyear to datein outbound passenger utilization. In 2016, we broke an all-time record for passenger traffic traveling through FWA, only to be broken again in 2017. We are on track to break that record yet again at the end of this year. This will concludeeight consecutive years of growth for passengers traveling out of Fort Wayne International Airport.

3You have a number of new changes at the airport this year – most notably the new Terminal Road. Why were the changes made, and what other improvements – inside and out of the terminal – will travelers see?

This has been a great year for FWA. We just completed Phase 1 of our Runway 5-23 rehabilitation. With the success of our general aviation center, Fort Wayne Aero Center, and the number of general aviation aircraft utilization increasing, the need for a new hangar was inevitable. The construction of that hangar will be completed before the end of this year to accommodate high volumes of general aviation aircraft.

The general aviation center was moved away from the terminal complex to the west side of the airfield in 2015. We just recently completed our new terminal entrance road relocation project.

The completion of both projects makes room for the expansion of the terminal building. With passenger traffic increasing, we need to add a couple more gates to accommodate growth that we have been experiencing.

We also just started valet parking at the terminal. This will enhance the passenger experience as they can drop off their car before their flight and then it will be heated and waiting for them upon arrival. Passengers will also notice a few changes internally, such as all new signage in the airport and new carpet.

4We sometimes hear of area residents driving to larger cities to catch flights. Why should they fly in and out of Fort Wayne?

Our highest priority at FWA, other than safety, is the passenger experience. We strive to deliver the best customer service by providing unique amenities such as the free parking lot shuttle service, valet service, updated restrooms, free luggage and wheelchair assistance, free wi-fi and numerous other amenities. Our (Transportation Security Administration) works hard to make sure that screening is quick and efficient. We try to make flying out of FWA as easy as possible. We also love welcoming passengers with a locally made cookie upon arrival. We continue to thank our passengers for choosing FWA during our Customer Appreciation events, giveaways and during spring break. We strive to engage with passengers as best as possible through marketing initiatives such as Mr. and Mrs. Vacation, National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, our annual Pumpkin Painting Contest and our Hospitality PAWS program. But after all that, I personally believe that the number-one reason to fly FWA is because this isyour hometown airport. When you land at FWA, you are only a short distance from your home. It is important to utilize FWA to gain larger aircraft and more nonstop flights. FWA is an economic engine for the region, and the best way to get new routes or additional frequencies on existing routes is for the region to use their hometown airport for their air travel needs.

5As an airport administrator, you undoubtedly spend more time in the air than most. Aside from FWA, what’s your favorite U.S. airport and why?

Is there really an airport that compares to the convenience of FWA? OK, really, being in the airport industry, I don’t have a favorite airport other than FWA. I will say, any airport that is well designed to efficiently flow traffic, well maintained, high degree of cleanliness and offers the amenities that the users desire gets a grade A as a consumer.

FWA has direct service to 12 different communities and really, about one stop for anywhere in the world. Airport staff works hard with airlines to offer the service or route destinations thatnortheast Indiana has the capacity to support.

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