For a number of years, the Devos family has been giving to charity and education in Michigan. The family has been political before at the state level, but now as Betsy Devos becomes the 11th US Education Secretary, she has finally crossed over into politics. Her husband Dick Devos has followed suit. However, his aspirations have always been political. Although he was unsuccessful in his governor run for Michigan in 2006, he has pursued a career in politics alongside his wife.
Now, he will finally get the chance to work in Washington. As of September 2017, he has joined the Management Advisory Council for the Federal Aviation Administration. Many do not realize this but Devos has a long history in aviation and has been helping the local airport in his hometown of Grand Rapids for over two decades. Devos received praise from the CEO of Southwest and CEO of Gerald R. Ford International Airport for the nomination.
The nomination comes after the FAA had created the council as an advisory board for upcoming policies and regulation changes. President Trump had challenged the agency during his presidential run by stating that airports in other markets were far more advanced than America’s own aviation industry.
The FAA has been announcing policy changes throughout 2018. It has also announced changes to technology in certain areas, such as the announcement for the $40.9 million new tower at GSO. However, the council has been advising the FAA on a variety of new growth ideas, which is where Devos plays a major role.
After all, it was Devos who helped turn around a failing airport in his hometown. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport received a $45 million renovation fund after many years of help from Devos. The former CEO of Amway went the extra mile to help out his colleague and friend the CEO of the airport after the re-launch in 1999 of the airport proved to have no effect on ticket sales.
Devos saw that there were greater opportunities for the airport following a phone call to AirTran Airways in 2001. He talked to the CEO about adding more destinations. He specifically saw opportunities for areas that business travelers frequented, such as Orlando, Vegas, St. Louis, and Denver. The AirTran Airways CEO also saw that opportunity and eventually opened up these flights. Now the Gerald R. Ford International Airport had some real destinations, which immediately resulted in an increase in ticket sales.
For over a decade, Devos has been working with the CEO of the airport, contributing where he can to help with expansions. He talked to the CEO of Southwest when the company bought out AirTran Airways in order to persuade him to not take away any of the new terminals. That proved to be lucrative as well. Southwest eventually expanded much more at the airport and even contributed to the $45 million renovation to be completed in 2018.
The expanded airport would have an exclusive business traveler’s center, as well as an upgraded food court and new technology throughout the airport. This was the type of progress that got you nominated to the FAA’s Management Advisory Council. The council is comprised of 13 members from business, transportation authority, and airline executive backgrounds. The nomination was praised by the CEOs of several companies, including the CEO of Southwest.
Now that Devos has been working with the FAA for about a year, he has had some time on Capitol Hill. He joins his wife, the 11th US Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, who has been working in Washington since her appointment in 2016. She has taken on education reform, a cause which is also close to Dick Devos’ heart. It’s the reason why he co-founded the pilot training school West Michigan Aviation Academy in his hometown of Grand Rapids.
Devos will continue to meet with the council for another two years. The council meets once every quarter.
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