Why U.S. Airport Capital Programs Need Executive Program Management

By R. Clay Paslay

America’s airports are front and center in the current, once-in-a-generation U.S. infrastructure rebuild.

The Transportation Security Administration projects that Summer 2023 air travel volumes will surpass pre-pandemic levels. Airports with terminals, security checkpoints, and parking garages designed in the 50s and 60s are feeling the sting from frustrated passengers who can’t get through security lines and crave a modern, enjoyable airport experience.

Passenger demand paired with post-pandemic federal infrastructure funding has helped municipalities and airport authorities nationwide propel capital improvement programs forward. But careful planning, program management, and execution will mean the difference between success and schedule and cost breakdowns.

Paslay Group created the Executive Program Management model for airport capital programs and introduced it to the industry in 2006 as a better way to help airport owners expand their capacity to deliver large capital programs, manage risks, and control costs.

The model has taken off and is ensuring success for airports from Nashville to Kansas City and Pittsburgh to Omaha and several others.

Each airport is different, and we collaborate with owners to tailor the model to their unique needs. EPM provides aviation departments and airport authorities a small team of seasoned program management executives that integrate with the owner’s executive team and serve as an extension airport leadership.

An EPM team typically includes two to four roles – a senior Executive Program Manager, and experts in Construction, Design and Project Controls management – and serves as the airport’s executive leadership as a trusted advisor and a check-and-balance on program contractors. As a professional service, the model offers predictable fees. There is no incentive to over-hire or inflate costs.

How do we know this works?

  • At Nashville International Airport, our PG Executive Program Management division has supported the owner in its 2023 opening of a new Grand Lobby, consolidated security checkpoint, increased gate capacity, and new parking facilities. Through the careful management of contracts and payments, PG EPM has helped BNA save millions of dollars and achieve faster passenger processing times, increased revenue, added capability to meet airline demand for contact gates, and improved passenger service.
  • At Kansas City International Airport, our firm led the February 2023 delivery of a consolidated central terminal and security checkpoint, a 6,200-space parking garage and modern, efficient facilities that have increased capacity and improved customer service. EPM efforts allowed the owner to increase the program scope by five gates and reduce costs more than $400 million from the original contractor pricing.
  • In Pittsburgh, PG EPM is assisting the innovative Allegheny County Airport Authority executive leadership in developing new landside terminal facilities that will open in 2025 with reduced costs, higher operational throughput, and increase revenues. Our strategic planning assistance has supported $250 million in early program savings while increasing processing capacity and reducing processing times.

Capital programs are risky. Decision-making must accelerate to meet schedules. Spending must escalate to achieve goals.

Executive Program Management expands an airport owner’s ability to deliver capital programs on time and within budget while remaining in control of the program.

R. Clay Paslay is Managing Partner and CEO of the Paslay Group, the premiere, full-service airport consultancy providing Executive Program Management, Business Advisory, and Development services for a wide array of airports implementing capital programs. Founded  in 2006 by former airport executives, PG has assisted owners in delivering airport projects valued at $21.1 billion and is currently managing an additional $11.1 billion in investments. Visit paslaygroup.com to learn more.