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Government agencies/municipalities often contract private companies to operate their airline facilities and to provide the intended services. The services provided include both defense and passenger services. Such contracts reduce the operation cost that would otherwise have been paid for by the government or municipality, and ensures a lean and more efficient business model which provides superior services to the city, and supports government operations. Contracted airports ensure cost effective and excellent operations. They upgrade all the airport equipment even though some of them have fixed price framework. Such upgrading activities may include expanding and improving the on-site management team and flow of equipment, among other initiatives.
Whenever a municipality contracts a private company to operate its airport, it does not affect certification of the airport. The city still reserves the right to own the certification for the airport. The city management and the private company sign a contractual agreement which gives the company the permit to operate the airport facilities and services for a specific period of time. The city management therefore reserves the right to amend, re-enact or extend the contract period and the conditions for the transfer of services. Re-enactment and amendment to the original conditions provided in the original documents may be done even without prior notice to the contracted company, as long as the city management finds it necessary to do so. Companies contracted to provide the agreed upon services may sometimes not be allowed to sub-contract the services without authorization of the city airport management (Los Angeles World Airports, 2011).
Operational safety at the airport
Contracting a private company to operate airport facilities and to provide services does not affect its operational safety. This is because the municipal airport management still reserves the mandate to maintain the operational safety of the airport. The municipal airport management agency designs the airport safety standards and ensures that they are followed by the company through conducting continuous assessment of the operational safety of the airport. They also review the operational safety performance of the company to make it conform to the requirements of the agency’s safety standards, and the safety culture of the city’s airports. Besides, the International Civil Aviation Organization also conducts a regular, mandatory audit programme on all contracting states. This audit programme aims at evaluating the implementation of safety programmes in relation to the ICAO standards so that it can recommend best practices and procedures (Aviation Safety Network, 2009). The municipal airport management agency or the government regulates and oversees the airport operation as well as management so as to ensure that government/state and ICAO standards for airports operational safety are followed. The operational safety standards are always included in the terms of agreements (Vreedenburgh, 1999). This ensures that the operation safety of the privatized airport is not affected.
The role of the airport manager
The airport manager of a municipal airport should be retained even after contracting a private company to operate the facility. The airport manager plays a key role in managing, supervising, as well as, coordinating operations and maintenance of the airport. He will still be needed to coordinate the activities of the airport with other city departments as well as outside agencies. After privatization, he will be needed to manage all the services as well as activities of the airport except for those contracted to the private company. Since the management of daily airport safety activities still falls under the municipality, the services of the airport manager is still necessary. Besides, there is still need for a manager who will be charged with coordinating continuous evaluation of the airports operations, procedures, policies, as well as maintenance, and recommending changes and supervising the implementation of the changes (Hollister Municipal Airport, 2003).
Contracted airports still remain under the care of the municipal council even after being leased to a private company. Certification of the airport is not transferred to the private company and the municipal agency in charge of the airport still reserves the right to make changes to the terms of the agreement. They also ensure that operational safety of the airport is maintained. The fact that the municipal still oversees the management of the airport makes it necessary to retain the airport manager even after contracting it to a private company.
Aviation Safety Network. (2009). Safety assessment. Web.
Hollister Municipal Airport. (2003). Airport manager. Web.
Los Angeles World Airports. (2011). Airfield operations. Web.
Vreedenburgh, M. (1999). International Civil Aviation Organization Airport Privatization seminar/forum for the NAM/CAR/SAM regions: Airport operational efficiency. Web.