AAAE Aviation Issues Conference Essay

Introduction

The Association of American Aviation Executives (AAAE) Aviation Issues Conference has been held in different locations in and outside the US for the last 20 years - AAAE Aviation Issues Conference Essay introduction. It’s the premier gathering of aviation professionals and brings together leaders from the industry and governments to discuss important issues of the day in the aviation industry. One such conference was held in January 11-15, 2009 at the Hapuna Beach Hotel in Kona, Hawaii. This proved to be an interesting conference in the wake of the November presidential elections that just took place in US.

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Issues

One of the immediate pressing issues that emerged from the conference is the economic crisis facing the US and the attendant rise in aviation fuel prices. This was a major issue given that the airline business was already a direct victim of the economic slump, as many flights were being cancelled. The increased fuel prices therefore served to add insult to injury.

The issue of security also came up in the wake of recent terrorist activity in India among other places. With the economic challenges facing the industry, there was the very real problem of the capacity to cope with the terror problem.

In the background of these problems was the issue of the long overdue reauthorization of the FAA through congress legislation to give it the requisite teeth to deal with the emerging aviation problems. In the spotlight were the FAA administration, the Transport Security Administration (TSA) and key congress and agency officials. Obviously, the policies and attitudes of the new administration towards the aviation industry were key to the discussion. Issues such as what the new administration would most likely do to pay for the many needs of the aviation industry given the fiscal constraints were in focus. Several measures were suggested to enable interventions in the skyrocketing fuel prices and drawing back the general population to airline travel.

The conference offered attendees a first look at these and other key issues that will most likely set the agenda for Congress and the executive arm of government for the rest of the year.

The conference featured a huge array of participants including senators, representatives, FAA and TSA officials. There were group discussions featuring free debate in a lively atmosphere. There were also plenary presentations. In general the sessions were informal despite the serious nature of the issues being tackled. The luxurious Hotel also helped to create a warm and friendly ambiance for the participants. The support staff were friendly and supportive, and as a student a learned a lot from their hospitality despite the high pressure of work.

Several exhibitors gave the students and other job seekers at the conference wide range of products and career opportunities. There were helpful books, brochures, magazines and other reference material. Perhaps on the downside conversely, the large attendance at the conference sometimes made an individual feel socially suffocated or left. Nevertheless, the small group discussions went a long way in alleviating this problem.

One of the biggest benefits was the focus on individual concerns in all aspects of the industry such as air carriers, cargo carriers, airports, manufacturers, security companies and even passengers. Opportunities emerged that could be pursued by interested individuals to voice the concerns of the industry to authorities in Washington.

Among such opportunities was the proposal to form action groups that would help to petition congress on the need for urgent legislation to empower the FAA and regulate the industry. There is clearly a need to voice the industry’s concerns in a coherent and coordinated manner to avoid creating confusion rather that progression. As a student I found it particularly interesting to pursue this advocacy program that would make me an important fulcrum in the rusty wheels of the aviation industry. In this way I feel that I would be quite useful to the industry. As a hospitality student, this would give me ample opportunity to help decrease the amount of frustration and time that it takes to clear passengers at airports. If for instance, the government would take a more active role in airport perimeter security; this would set a few more hands free to help attend to passengers. Then true airline hospitality would begin from the check in counter.

Conclusion

All in all everyone was highly enlightened by the conference which by and large was better organized than most. In addition, it remained focused on the important issues without too much digression.

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