June 2017 was the busiest June on record at the Gerald R. Ford International (GFIA) Airport, coming off a March that was the single busiest month in airport history.
June 2017 passengers were up 5.59 percent year-over-year, not only resulting in the busiest June ever, but also securing the title of busiest second quarter in airport history by over 30,000 passengers; and the busiest overall quarter ever serving over 700,452 passengers since the beginning of the year.
“We are halfway through 2017 and already seeing incredible record-breaking statistics,” said GFIA President & CEO Jim Gill. “This is a testament to our region, and our growing community along with our airline partnerships. Not only does this June go down in airport history, but 2017 now holds the title for busiest first half ever beating out 2016 by over 86,000 passengers.”
Each month of 2017 has resulted in record-breaking passenger numbers, and the Airport has seen ten straight months of record growth.
Through June 2017, GFIA has served 1,385,730 total passengers — up 6.6 percent from 2016.
“The first phase of our Gateway Transformation Project will be complete at the end of summer, and we’re excited to see what the combination of this redesign along with the growing business in West Michigan does for our numbers,” said Gill. “We hope our continued growth prompts more nonstop service, and more options for those travelers who keep supporting us to achieve these record- breaking stats.”
Gateway Transformation Project construction began in December 2015 and is slated to continue through summer 2017. The project’s main feature is the consolidated passenger security checkpoint which opened in June, and centralizes security screening to one main checkpoint in the Airport. Construction also includes new terrazzo flooring, lighting fixtures, kids play areas, restroom and nursing room, family restrooms, pre- and post-security business centers, new retail and food & beverage space, and much more.
For the first time in its history, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) will be a venue for ArtPrize.
GFIA has been a sponsor and welcoming point for artists and visitors for several years, and decided to sign on as a venue for the 9th annual art competition, given the connection to the community. Seven artists will have art displayed at the Airport, which includes both indoor and outdoor work.
“We are thrilled to be a part of ArtPrize in more ways than one, and serving as a venue will not only give visitors a first impression of our city; but it will hopefully bring in those from around West Michigan into the airport to see the art and check out our newest facilities,” said GFIA President & CEO Jim Gill. “The Ford Airport strives to be reflective of the people and events in West Michigan, and what better opportunity is there to do so other than partner with ArtPrize? We look forward to welcoming in both local and international artists, and look forward to seeing their talents on display.”
ArtPrize is an open, independently organized international art competition which takes place for 19 days each fall in Grand Rapids. More than five hundred thousand dollars in prizes are awarded each year, which include a $200,000 prize awarded entirely by public vote and another $200,000 prize awarded by a jury of art experts.
Any artist working in any medium from anywhere in the world can participate. Art is exhibited throughout downtown Grand Rapids—museums, bars, public parks, restaurants, theaters, hotels, bridges, and for the first time – the Airport. Over eight years, 2.9 million visitors have cast 3.2 million votes and artists from around the country and world have received $4.1 million in awards.
“In addition to their stunning renovations, we are excited to expand the ArtPrize boundaries to include The Gerald R. Ford International Airport allowing visitors from all over the world to experience — an vote for — the work of ArtPrize Artist on their first and last stop in West Michigan,” said ArtPrize Executive Director Christian Gaines.
Nonstop service from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) began today with a celebratory press conference, water canon salute, and capitol building-themed cake.
American Airlines announced the service in December, which is operated by American Eagle. The service features 13 weekly round trips.
“Nonstop service to Reagan National Airport has been a target market of ours, and we are happy to see American Airlines continue to invest in the Grand Rapids market,” said Gerald R. Ford International Airport President & CEO Jim Gill. “American has grown 74 percent at the Ford Airport since 2015, nearly tripling its seat capacity – that says a lot about American’s desire to expand here, and our community’s response to supporting new routes.”
The flight schedule for the new service includes departure times from Grand Rapids twice daily at 7:20 a.m. and 12:50 p.m. Sunday through Friday, and one daily departure at 9:40 a.m. on Saturdays. Service departing DCA and returning to GRR is twice daily at 10:00 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. Sunday through Friday, with a 4:00 p.m. daily departure time on Saturdays.
American Airlines has served Gerald R. Ford International Airport passengers for over 25 years, and also has nonstop service to Chicago-O’Hare, Dallas Fort Worth, Charlotte, and Philadelphia.
The Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority Board announced today that James “Jim” Gill has been hired as its new President & CEO.
Gill, who comes to Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) from Allegheny County Airport Authority in Pittsburgh, was selected as the finalist for the position by a search committee.
The Airport Authority Board voted unanimously to hire Gill at today’s board meeting.
“We are thrilled to welcome Jim to West Michigan, and we know he will thrive as the next CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport,” said GFIA Board Chairman Roger Morgan. “Jim has a track record of strong leadership, community partnerships, and he is well known and well respected among his peers in the aviation industry. Jim will continue to spark our growth as we invest in customer service, technology and construction projects, and serve as a catalyst for West Michigan’s economic progress.”
Gill is an industry veteran with more than two decades of senior airport management experience. With deep roots in the Pittsburgh area, he has served 13 years of that time at the Allegheny County Airport Authority, whose two airports serve more than 8 million passengers per year. There he has been CFO since 2007, and added the COO position to his duties in 2015. He has also previously served as Interim Executive Director. Gill also spent six years at Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority as Deputy Airport Director & CFO.
Gill is an Accredited Airport Executive with the American Association of Airport Executives and an International Airport Professional through Airports Council International, one of a very select group of airport professionals to hold both credentials.
Gill has many successes in his career including personally overseeing the operation of Pittsburgh International Airport transfer from county control to a new independent airport authority, which was a multi-year, complex process requiring significant operational knowledge and dynamic collaboration with a variety of stakeholders including the FAA which must ultimately approve the transfer. Moreover, while serving in the capacity as Interim Executive Director at Pittsburgh, Gill facilitated an agreement to have Allegiant Air begin point-to-point service there as the airline’s first medium hub, a successful operation which has grown from five destinations in 2014 to eleven destinations today.
“I am delighted to be joining the talented team at GFIA and I look forward to moving forward together,” said Gill. “An airport is so often the first and last impression that travelers have of the community and region, and so one must be committed to delivering outstanding operational performance while exceeding customer service expectations. I know we will continue to have an outstanding record of success in West Michigan, and I am excited to help lead the airport into a new, expansive era while working closely with the Authority Board, airport management, staff, and our community and business partners.”
Among the Airport’s future plans is a current Gateway Transformation Project, which is set to complete Phase One in summer 2017. Additionally, the Airport Viewing Park is set to open in the spring, and GFIA is on pace to break another passenger record for 2016. Airport leadership is also underway in updating the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Master Plan.
“One of the things that attracted me to this job is the excitement surrounding the growth of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport,” said Gill. “I am really looking forward to seeing all of these projects come to fruition, and to be the leader that helps drive even more growth and development in the future.”
The search committee was headed by GFIA Board Member Floyd Wilson, and Board Chairman Roger Morgan. Steven Baldwin & Associates – an Airport Management Consulting firm based out of Albany, New York – assisted in the recruiting process
“Jim has significant business and economic development experience,” said Wilson. “That is a perfect fit for the direction the board has envisioned for the new Authority.”
GFIA, which was named the top airport of its size in the region in 2015 by Airports Council International (ACI), welcomed a record 2.5 million passengers last year.
Gill will officially start work at the airport on January 9, 2017. He replaces Brian Ryks, who resigned in March to accept a position as CEO of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.