Air carriers hate to see director go
While the impact of the resignation of the executive director of a statewide aviation organization is hard to judge at first, statewide airline business leaders agree that they are thankful for the director’s decade-plus of effort.
Kim Ross announced she would resign Dec. 31, 2000 as executive director of the Alaska Air Carriers Association, after 13 years of service with the organization.
"Kim has done a lot for aviation in Alaska, and I hate to see her go," said Dick Harding, a board member and former president of the association.
AACA, founded in Southeast Alaska in the 1960s, currently has 87 active members and 90 associate members. AACA’s membership is made up of the major airlines -- the likes of Alaska Airlines and Northwest Airlines -- as well as the mom and pop operations and single guide services statewide.
"The AACA is now in a position where it has a voice. Both the state and federal governments now listen to what the group has to say," said John Eckles, current president of the AACA. "We credit Kim with bringing the organization to this level. She was very instrumental in its growth."
Ross is also credited for her vigilance in negotiations and objections to provisions of the new statewide aviation leasing guidelines, or Title 17 regulations, that state Department of Transportation officials are still musing.
"She kept Title 17 on track and came up with comments. Her monitoring this was a major contribution to the carriers," Harding said.
Several comment periods were extended, and the AACA and its membership were responsible for a drive that forced DOT to hold over the draft of the regulations due to objections. Ross hired Steve Pavish as a consultant to help the state understand the AACA’s position. Pavish is credited with writing the original leasing regulations for the state.
But that is not the only major accomplishment that Ross achieved in her tenure.
"Kim was very proactive. She understood what the carriers wanted and how we operated," said Bob Hajdukovich, president of Fairbanks-based Frontier Flying Service.
"Kim knew who we were, and how we operated," added PenAir’s general manager Harding. "We were so busy with our day-to-day business that we just gave her the latitude to take the reins for the carriers, and she did. That’s the job of an executive director.
Eckles and Harding both agree that because of the executive director’s efforts, Alaska’s congressional delegation now pays close attention to the AACA’s voice on matters that affect their business, such as those involving the U.S. Postal Service, one of the major sources of revenue for aviation operations in hub cities and rural operations.
Ross considered the aviation community her family as she reflected on her years as executive director.
"I want to thank you for the camaraderie, support and amazing education I received while working with all of you over the past 13 years," Ross said in an e-mail to the group’s membership.
"I am very thankful for my relationship with the association as it provided well for my family and me. I literally raised my boys in the back room of the office watching TV while stuffing and stamping envelopes!"
Ross left the organization in early January to take a job with the Alaska Legislature’s Senate Labor and Commerce Committee in Juneau.
AACA board members hope to name a replacement sometime in the middle of January.