Dream team could help community's airport soar
July 17, 2013
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  • Most who use the Colorado Springs Airport can’t say enough positive about it. They love the convenience. The friendly atmosphere is so pervasive one can even sense it among the Transportation Safety Administration personnel lucky enough to be stationed here.

    Problem is, the airport has to compete with Denver International Airport. The country’s fifth busiest airport (the world’s 10th) is just up the road, barely a hour away for many residents of metropolitan Colorado Springs.

    City officials have brainstormed until they can’t think of another idea. They mayor shows up at the airport to welcome and thank those who fly in and out. Airport officials have tried a little of this and a little of that and nothing seems to bring this asset to another level. Airlines big and small have come and gone.

    So it’s time to take the business plan to a whole new level. It’s time to get serious. It’s time to bring in an A-team to help devise a strategy including getting closer with airlines.

    That’s precisely what appears in process with Mayor Steve Bach’s appointment of a new Airport Air Service Task Force, announced at a news conference Tuesday.

    “This blue ribbon community leadership group, led by Bill Hybl, will assist our Airport in efforts to improve air service. The goal is more affordability and destinations for air travelers. This task force will complement the Airport Advisory Commission, which focuses on land use impacting the Airport,” said Bach said in a news release.

    This isn’t just any old committee. It’s a group of five people with long track records of extraordinary accomplishments for our community who are likely to find a way to make DIA an asset and not a liability for the Colorado Springs Airport.

    Consider some of their credentials:

    – Hybl, CEO of the El Pomar Foundation, is former special counsel to the late President Ronald Reagan. He twice served as president of the United States Olympic Committee and is a member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. President George W. Bush appointed him as U.S. Representative to the 56th General Assembly of the United Nations. He is vice chairman of the board of directors of The Broadmoor, president of the Air Force Academy Foundation and a member of too many boards and committees to list.

    – Steve Bartolin is chairman and CEO of The Broadmoor, arguably the most prestigious resort in the world. He has been so successful in leading The Broadmoor that Colorado Business Magazine named him CEO of the Year in 2012. His voluntary assessment of problems at City Hall was so spot on it went viral and led the way for a constructive overhaul of the structure of city government.

    – Scott Blackmun is CEO of the United States Olympic Committee and former Corporate Operations Officer of Anschutz Entertainment Group. A highly respected attorney, Blackmun is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Stanford Law School and a member of numerous boards of directors. He has played a major role in keeping the Olympic committee, the training center and multiple Olympic governing boards in our community.

    – Victor Renuart is a retired Air Force four-star general. Having flown 60 combat missions over Iraq and Bosnia, he retired in 2010 with 39 years of aviation-related service. He’s a members of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance Board of Directors. His last military assignment was as commander of United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command.

    – Pamela Shockley-Zalabak is chancellor of the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. She’s the author of eight books, including “Building the High Trust Organization,” published in 2010. She’s the recipient of too many prestigious awards to list, but more importantly she can take credit for overseeing, facilitation and helping cause extraordinary growth in the university’s enrollment.

    We thank these five outstanding community leaders for their willingness to serve another worthy cause in a community they obviously care about and love. We also have every confidence they will accomplish a difficult but achievable goal of bringing more flights at better prices to Colorado Springs, an essential ingredient to attracting more economic development and jobs.