MAC Newsletter, November 2017

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Welcome to the Metropolitan Airports Commission's e-newsletter.

Spirit Airlines will fly to Seattle; other airlines begin new flights


Spirit Airlines today announced new service from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) beginning April 12 of 2018.

The flights will operate daily and be offered through Sept. 5, when the seasonal service will end. 

With the Spirit flights added at MSP, there will be four airlines serving the route to Seattle including Delta, Alaska and Sun Country.

The Spirit news comes as other new routes are taking off from MSP.

Alaska Airlines began its new service from MSP to San Diego recently with a gate ceremony on Concourse E. The new daily, nonstop flight is part of Alaska's expanded service on the West Coast. 

Also, Sun Country Airline's new seasonal flights to Aruba and Tucson start service soon. 

The schedule from MSP's Terminal 2 to Aruba will include one flight per week, departing Saturdays starting Dec. 23 through April 7. 

The flights to Tucson will be available from Dec. 21 through April 15, with flights departing Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

MAC's Dennis Probst to take key position at San Diego airport


Dennis Probst, the chief operating officer of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, is taking a position as vice president of development at San Diego International Airport starting in early December. He'll oversee the airport's planning, development, environmental and sustainability efforts.

Probst has been with the MAC for 20 years, working as a construction manager, director and a vice president before becoming COO.

Probst called the MAC "a fantastic organization filled with very talented people, and it's been a privilege to serve here in various leadership capacities." He noted that San Diego International is in the midst of several transformative development projects with which he'll be involved.

Probst played pivotal roles at the MAC related to the development of the Blue Line Light Rail Transit system's tunnel and stations at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport; the 8,000-space parking ramp and auto rental addition at Terminal 1-Lindbergh, the addition of 17 mainline jet gates and 30 regional gates at Terminal 1, and construction of the new Terminal 2-Humphrey, just to name a few projects.

More recently he led efforts to construct a new 5,000-space parking ramp at Terminal 1, a new airport hotel and the largest structure-based solar energy generation system in Minnesota.

"Denny has left an indelible mark on the MAC system of airports, both through his strong leadership and vision in the airport planning and development arena," said Brian Ryks, the MAC's CEO and executive director. "I wish him the very best in his new role at San Diego International Airport and know he will have a significant positive impact there as well."

Labor unions give The Learning Jet's new classroom space a lift

Union tradespeople are converting a former airplane hangar at the St. Paul Downtown Airport (STP) into classroom space, where the staff behind The Learning Jet hopes to inspire students to consider aviation-related careers.

The hangar is just across the tarmac from The Learning Jet, a repurposed Boeing 727 that was previously a cargo carrier for Federal Express.

While the jet itself has hosted thousands of school-age children since it was placed at STP two years ago, The Learning Jet team needed a better space for instruction -- and one that came with amenities such as bathrooms and steady heat. 

Steve Hurvitz stands in the new classroom space during the renovation work. Donations and in-kind contributions have come from: RRTL Architects – Craig Rafferty, principal; Kraus Anderson/General Contractor; Air Conditioning Associates coordinated a donation from York of the HVAC unit; Nasseff Mechanical;United Rental;Kirtland Electric;Tom Tousignant, site supervisor skills, and other anonymous donors.

The solution was just a couple of hundred feet away in an empty hangar owned by the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which also owns and operates the airport.

Steve Hurvitz, vice president and project director of Minnesota Association of Women in Aviation  -- the organization supporting the Learning Jet -- approached the MAC and laid out the idea for classroom space.

The Association of Women in Aviation is a non-profit that seeks to inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, aerospace and mathematics -- or STEAM. So far in 2017, about 2,000 kids have come aboard the 727. 


With the building secured and a rent agreement in place, Hurvitz started looking for ways to get the empty hangar converted to modern classroom space.

Pictured: Steve Hurvitz inside The Learning Jet.

The first donation came from Home Depot, where Hurvitz worked with local store managers to apply for a grant from the company’s foundation. Ultimately, Home Depot gave $18,000 for the project. 

Hurvitz’s talent for describing the purpose behind The Learning Jet, and the program’s success to date, helped him line up a much broader group of supporters.

Dan Bostrom, a St. Paul City Councilor, put Hurvitz in touch with Don Mullin, the leader of the St. Paul Building and Construction Trades Council. From there, the contributions of donated labor started pouring in.

Union plumbers, carpenters, electricians, bricklayers, sheet metal workers, roofers and pipefitters all chipped in for the renovation. There were also cement finishers, insulators and laborers who helped. Union apprentices are doing the work, providing newly trained workers valuable on-the-job experience.  

The work has been done in the workers’ spare time, but the project has still come together quickly. One half of the hangar will include modern classroom space with screens for digital displays. Modern, accessible bathrooms are also being installed, and there are plans for a flight simulator once the interior space is finished. 

The other half of the hangar will be home to two single-engine planes, one of them a Piper Warrior and a second plane whose acquisition is still in the works.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone involved,” Hurvitz said. “As the work inside the hangar keeps getting closer to completion, we can’t wait to start putting it to use.”

MAC's Kate Webb recognized by Airport Business magazine


Kate Webb, manager of contracts and proposals for the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s (MAC) concessions and business development office, was recently recognized by Airport Business Magazine in its “40 Under 40” awards for airport managers. 

Webb, who has worked for the MAC for three years, was chosen for the group of 40 that showcases top talent in the airport industry.

In the last two years, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) has rebid dozens of concession spaces and opened 50 new retail and restaurant businesses. 

Webb helped steer the voluminous number of proposals for new business concepts at MSP through a rigorous selection process, and her organizational skills helped with the successful outcome, said Liz Grzechowiak, assistant director of concessions and business development for the MAC.

Webb’s work also involves instructing and assisting potential tenants with their proposal preparation, negotiating contract terms and helping inform MAC board members, who make the final decisions on concession contracts.

Webb has an undergraduate degree from Georgia College and State University, and a master’s degree from Troy University. Prior to coming to the MAC she worked at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority in Tennessee.

New hotel at MSP on track for summer 2018 opening

Construction of the new InterContinental Hotel and the skyway connecting it to Terminal 1-Lindbergh at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport continues at a steady pace, with the exteriors of each structure now receiving some finishing touches.

Glass now encloses much of the skyway and the windows along the exterior of the hotel, which is set to open in the summer of 2018. Work is also progressing inside, where workers will soon start installing room finishes. Many of the rooms offer a bird's eye view of the area, including several with views of both the Minneapolis and St. Paul downtown skylines. 


Since last spring, drivers arriving at Terminal 1-Lindbergh have watched the hotel go up. Graves Hospitality of Minneapolis is the developer in a partnership with InterContinental Real Estate Corp. of Boston. 

The 12-story hotel was designed by RSP Architects and PCL Construction is the builder.

The InterContinental (pictured) will offer approximately 300 rooms and will have its own security checkpoint leading into the skyway connected to Concourse C, allowing easy access to the airport. 

Guests will also be able to use a valet service for parking, or self-park their cars in a ramp next to the hotel. 

MAC leaders lauded for work on legal issues, environment


Two Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) employees received recognition recently for their leadership and service in the areas of law and airport noise.

Thomas W. Anderson retired recently after 38 years as the MAC's general counsel, and was named Transportation Lawyer of the Year by the Federal Bar Association's transportation section.

Among Anderson's career highlights are a $315 million financing agreement with Northwest Airlines in the early 1990s that helped preserve the airline's hub operation at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), legal support to the "dual track" process that led to a $3 billion expansion of MSP and a new runway, and management of more than 200 state and 100 federal court cases over the years.


Chad Leqve, director of environment for the MAC, was recognized at the annual AAAE/ACI-NA Noise Conference recently for his leadership in airport noise. 

Leqve received the Randy Jones Award for Excellence in Airport Noise Mitigation, which recognizes an individual, organization or program that made significant contributions to the industry. 

Leqve has more than two decades of experience in airport environmental programs, compatible land use planning, noise mitigation, and community engagement. 

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