May 31, 2018

Minutes of the Rotary Meeting
May 31, 2018
By Kathy Miller

Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by John Dukes at 12:00 p.m. Michael Pierce offered the invocation and Tommy Blankenship led the Club in song and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Guests: Jeff Zoghby introduced guests and visitors.

Student Guest: Jay Turner presented the 2018-2019 Rotary Scholarship Award winners, Kathrine “Katie” Eubanks of Satsuma High School, who will attend the University of Alabama, and Kamryn Pigg of Bryant High School, who will attend Tulane. He also introduced their parents. John thanked Jeff Luther for coordinating the student guests each week during this Rotary year.

Announcements: Arial Chavez told the Club about his visit to a Rotary Club in La Paz, Bolivia and presented our Club with a banner from the La Paz Club. John requested that members who need photos for the new Rotary roster or who needed to update their information contact Peggy. John also asked that those interested in volunteering for committees to let Peggy know. He reminded the members that on Tuesday, June 19, there will be a monthly Rotary social at the Cheese Cottage at 5:00 p.m. He also reminded members of the multi-district conference in Biloxi at the Beau Rivage.

Program: James Fowler introduced Chris Curry, Executive Director of the Mobile Airport Authority. Mr. Curry has 35 years of experience and has served in an executive capacity at three airports. In 2016 he was named Aviation Professional of the Year by the Florida Department of Transportation. He holds a degree in professional aeronautics from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and an associate degree from the Community College of the U.S. Airforce. Mr. Curry summarized the operations governed by the Mobile Airport Authority, a five member, self-sustaining board. The MAA owns and operates the Mobile Regional Airport) and the Brookley Aeroplex which includes both the downtown airport (250 acres) and the industrial complex (a 450 acre industrial park). Mr. Curry outlined recent discussions regarding consideration of commercial air travel from Brookley. He noted that Via, Mobile’s newest carrier, agreed to come into the MRA with the intent of transitioning to the downtown airport. He noted that the industrial complex has over 80 tenants employing over 4,000 people, including the Airbus assembly line, Airbus Engineering, VTMAE and Continental Motors. He said that MRA ranks as one of the highest fair airports in the country primarily because it is an airport utilized for business travel and is priced for business as opposed to leisure travel. He noted that promoting leisure travel and attracting leisure carriers will bring prices down. He said that approximately 50% of MRA’s passengers live within 40 miles of the airport. 30% of the passengers travel from Pensacola and 20% from New Orleans. He noted that Washington D.C. is our area’s number one underserved market followed by New York, Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Mr. Curry said that the MAA is completing a five year study, which began on February 2, 2018. The study includes evaluation of the cost of moving commercial air traffic downtown versus building better access to MRA from I-10 to the airport. The five year study addresses how commercial service and growth would be accomplished at the downtown airport and which options would attract low cost carriers to our market. The next step will be an airport master plan which will involve public comment and consideration of environmental issues, noise and facilities. Mr. Curry answered questions from members and Mr. Dukes presented Mr. Curry with a certificate for speaking to the Club.

Adjournment: After announcing members’ birthdays and the program for next week, John adjourned the meeting at 1:00 p.m.