Senior Vice President, Aviation and Facilities
Burns & McDonnell
Last year was full of transition for the aviation industry
and for Burns & McDonnell, with growth in the volume
and diversity of our clients’ needs. As airline industry
consolidation wound down, we saw new clients emerge
and existing clients extend their reach.
Our airport clients, like other private sector
enterprises, are focused on sustainability and energy
reduction. Retro-commissioning has grown into a
larger sector for us, providing energy cost reductions
and a funding mechanism for facility maintenance and
improvement at airports.
Aircraft fueling infrastructure upgrades were in
greater demand as more airports began addressing
deferred maintenance needs.
The year ahead holds promise, challenges and
questions — as it always does. We expect falling fuel
prices to boost bottom-line profit for many airline
clients. This likely will lead to reduced ticket prices for
passengers and increased passenger traffic in airports
— generating greater revenue for airports and increasing
the need for more and better airport facilities.
We also see a continuing trend toward airline
branding, special systems improvements and facility
upgrades at key hubs and first-tier airports. Our
program management and design teams should be
heavily engaged in airline integration initiatives
As the industry’s transitional period continues, it
will present opportunities for all of us to find new
and better ways of doing business. It’s bound to be an
Vice President, Corporate Communications
Hudson has just come off the most successful year in
our company’s history. We set new milestones across
the board: in revenue, number of employees, stores
and locations. We also deepened and widened our
commitment to our corporate charity, Communities In
Schools (CIS), the nation’s largest dropout prevention
organization. Our in-store collection boxes resulted
in a $300,000 check presented to CIS Chairman
Elaine Wynn at Hudson’s annual Vendor Show and
Management Seminar on Dec. 10, 2014.
The news and gift segment of every airport rollout of
our new “Hudson” travel essentials concept proved to be
a very big success with landlords and with passengers.
This reinvention of the traditional travel newsstand
was a big win for our company in our efforts to stay
relevant to the changing tastes of the traveling public.
In addition to our traditional reading materials, we
enhanced our merchandise selection with a wider range
of healthy snacks, vitamin waters, fashion forward
apparel, electronics (power and sound) and accessories
that today’s customers crave.
By far the largest challenges we saw were the
relatively slow growth in the number of domestic
passengers (less than 2 percent) and lack of seating
capacity on domestic flights (88 percent-89 percent full).
While Hudson has exposure to about 80 percent of
these domestic passengers, adding seating capacity
would almost certainly enhance our business. The
number of international passengers has grown by 4
percent- 5 percent, so we have enjoyed the benefit of
that growth in our international terminals and duty
One wish for 2015 would be growth in domestic
passenger numbers. Beyond that, it’s easy: no
disruptions, no delays, and peace and prosperity for all.
Airports in 2014 faced the challenge of growing
passenger traffic without significant increases in
funding for infrastructure improvement. There was a
steady stream of projects, a result of pent-up needs from
years past that had to be completed due to capacity,
safety and renewal issues, albeit with constrained
funding. RS&H saw an increase in workload from that.
For medium and small airports last year,
consolidation of airline service resulted in higher
local fares, lack of brand choice, and increased
Finally, after too many years of national economic
malaise, there is now an accepted optimism regarding
the U.S. economy. Because of the direct link between
economic growth and airline passenger and cargo
growth, there is cause for guarded optimism. With the
current, temporary, decreased price of crude oil, airlines
benefit as does consumer discretionary income. Airline
profitability is robust and is translating into increased
airport facility capital investment, directly and
indirectly. Local and state government expenditures are
on a slow upswing that translates into more favorable
consideration of local airport investment matches.
Compared with two years ago, the outlook is much more
positive for our industry and RS&H.
Within this economic context, my wish for 2015
would be smooth renewal of AIP and an increase in
the PFC indexed to inflation. Regardless of this wish
being granted, RS&H believes airports will continue to
work on both capacity enhancing and renewal projects,
as well as revenue-generating business ventures. In the