The big news in Washington is that a new DeVos is in town. Dick DeVos, husband of US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has now joined the Management Advisory Council for the Federal Aviation Administration. Appointed in September 2017, DeVos will work with policymakers, transportation authorities, and former airline executives to advise the FAA on the latest policies, budgets, regulations, and future growth plans.


The appointment comes after a long history of DeVos working within aviation while he was still President of Amway and continuing to do so as he started his own company, the Windquest Group. After so many years in business, DeVos has learned a thing or two about growing your opportunities and using connections to make things happen. That’s exactly how he has helped the Gerald R. Ford Airport over the years.


In the early 1990s, Dick DeVos saw a big change for Grand Rapids. As his hometown, he had grown up around the city and saw opportunities to rapidly grow the area in the next 10 years. He helped create Grand Action, which built several community buildings and a performing arts center throughout the 1990s. However, there was another way to start putting Grand Rapids on the map as a destination for air travelers.


The Gerald R. Ford International Airport was launched in the late 1990s. The airport had issues from the beginning as it didn’t offer enough flights to certain areas. It became used most often as a refuel airport for business travelers and jet pilots. The CEO if the airport reached out to DeVos for help, knowing that as the President of Amway for many years and having an avid passion for flying, he may know someone.


In fact, DeVos knew the CEO of Air Tran Airways. DeVos worked with the CEO to open up new flights to Vegas, Denver, St. Louis, and Orlando. The additional traffic allowed the airport to expand throughout the early 2000s. When Southwest took over Air Tran, DeVos talked to the CEO about keeping the terminals open, while knowing that the airline was shuddering terminals in several other cities. The talk worked, and the terminals stayed open at Grand Rapids.


Now the airport is undergoing a $45 million makeover. The renovation will create a new area for business travelers as well as a new food court and updated terminals. The technology in the new airport will update the way that passengers travel by air and hopefully improve upon the speed in which you can get through security and check-in.


DeVos has been thinking of different ways to help the aviation industry for many years. His new appointment comes at a time when airlines are trying to compete on a daily basis with ever-changing needs. There are also issues with employment and flight operations that need to be addressed. The council will meet every quarter to advise the FAA with what they find.


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