This week I'm talking with Syracuse's newly appointed Aviation Commissioner, Christina Reale (she had previously been serving in this post in an interim capacity). Her position entails the overall management of, and planning for, the Syracuse airport--and there have been a lot of recent press stories related to the airport. We discuss the plans for the airport's renovation--and the financing for that renovation--as well as the decision to change its governance structure from being city controlled to operating under an independent regional authority. We also discuss the airport’s long-term fiscal health, the pricing at the airport (for both concessions and flights), the growing role of women in aviation management, and the large-scale changes in passengers’ airport experiences, post 9-11.
I left this conversation thinking about the twists, turns, and ironies in political arguments. The argument in favor of an independent regional authority, which the Syracuse mayor strongly supports, is almost precisely the same argument that the Syracuse School Board has made to remain independent of the mayor's office--that having an independent body with one focus (either the airport or the school system) will lead to better decision-making and better management than a structure in which there are many competing objects of attention. But also note that the new regional airport authority will have a majority of seats appointed by the mayor, so perhaps this is a middle ground of sorts that might ultimately be followed for the school board.