Identify Community Connections
Airports can be viewed as assets that provide economic advantages and community access, and in some communities airports are unwelcome land uses that cause noise or slow development. Consequently, an airport needs a comprehensive understanding of the role it is expected to play in the community now and in the future and to actively engage the community to demonstrate its vital role in the transportation and economic system.
Both passive and active outreach can be targeted by an airport. As a passive option, an airport website and social media tools can be an effective way to push information out to the community. However, community outreach might go beyond media tools, and put people in front of people. Whether the outreach is done through an orchestrated schedule with a tracking sheet or simply when the opportunity arises, face-to-face conversations with community members, either one-on-one or in large settings, are valuable to building relationships. These active engagements allow the airport and the local community to interact and put a face to the airport in an effort to break down perceived barriers. In addition to going to community meetings and telling the airport’s story, the airport can bring people to the airport for a variety of reasons. People may become supporters of the airport once they visit the airport and have a “hands on” experience with the facility.
However, airports are reminded that they do not have complete control over the experiences the community has with an airport. ACRP Synthesis 48 How Airports Measure Customer Service Performance demonstrates that in terms of the overall delivery of aviation services to the public, the airport operator has limited control over the methods, means, employee behavior and appearance of direct service providers such as the airlines, rental car agencies, ground transportation providers, concessionaires, FBOs, and the TSA.
ACRP Report 44 A Guidebook for the Preservation of Public-Use Airports provides guidance for organizing airport advocacy. Some of the methods suggested can be applied to aligning community goals with airport roles. This process includes creating a group of known airport advocates and then expanding this group to a larger audience of organizations and individuals with roles at the airport. Next, airports are encouraged to do their “homework” to be well informed themselves about all of the things their airport is doing so this message can be shared accurately. This research includes learning about the NPIAS and ASSET classifications in the Identifying Your Airport’s Classification section and finding what role your airport plays through the designations revealed in the reports. Also, review the roles of the airport identified in the Determine the Aviation Roles of Your Airport and the Determine the Non-Aviation Roles of Your Airport sections. Finally, stay current with the issues facing the airport and account for changes in classifications and roles.