MAC Newsletter, November 2019

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

Atif Saeed named MAC's new CFO


Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) CEO Brian Ryks recently named Atif Saeed as the organization’s new Chief Financial Officer.

“Atif possesses the qualities we need to keep our airport system financially strong, competitive and customer-focused: proven financial acumen, an entrepreneurial spirit, a collaborative leadership approach, and a clear vision for expanding revenues,” Ryks said. “No airport authority in the nation has higher bond ratings than the Metropolitan Airports Commission, and I know Atif will leverage that strong financial position so we can continue to invest in facilities and infrastructure to meet the growing demands of passengers and our business partners.”

Saeed has been Interim Chief Financial Officer since August 2019. Before that, he served as the MAC’s Vice President-Finance and Revenue Development since October 2016 and Assistant Director of MSP Operations-Landside from June 2015 to October 2017.

“I appreciate the trust CEO Ryks has placed in me and am very honored to take on this new role,” Saeed said. “With seven airports, the Metropolitan Airports Commission operates one of the largest airport systems in the nation. It is a resource-intensive business, and it’s important we continue to build on the strong tradition of effective financial management by a highly-dedicated team of MAC professionals while looking for new opportunities to generate revenues to help keep costs to airlines and travelers competitive.”

Saeed joined the MAC after serving as Director of Transportation at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Prior to that he was Parking Systems Manager for the City of Minneapolis.

Saeed earned an MBA with a focus on finance, marketing and entrepreneurship from Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. He completed the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the Airport Executive Leadership Program from Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business and Airports Council International.

Saeed holds several professional certifications, including International Airport Professional (IAP) from Airport Council International and Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.) from American Association of Airport Executives.

Blaine Peterson to manage Flying Cloud, Airlake airports

Blaine Peterson

Blaine Peterson joined the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) recently as manager of both the Flying Cloud and Airlake airports. He succeeds Mike Wilson, who now manages the St. Paul Downtown and Lake Elmo airports within the MAC’s six airport general aviation system.

Blaine comes to the MAC with 15 years of experience at the Duluth Airport Authority and another four years managing the Rusk County Airport in Ladysmith, Wis.

He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation and Airways Management and Operations from the University of North Dakota.

We spoke with Blaine about his background and his role at Flying Cloud – the busiest of the MAC’s Reliever Airports – and Airlake, which, next to the Lake Elmo Airport, has the fewest take-offs and landings in the MAC system.

Can you tell us a little about your background? I grew up in Moorhead, Minn. – my dad was a grain elevator manager and my grandparents were farmers. So as soon as school let out until it started again in the fall, I was on the farm chucking bales of hay and working. We’d get up early and work late into the night – that’s where I developed a work ethic. When I graduated from high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Desert Storm in Iraq in 1991. After my initial four-year stint, I re-upped and ended up spending a total of 20 years in the Army, with multiple deployments, and another six years in the Air National Guard. During part of that time, I also served as manager of the Rusk County Airport in Ladysmith, Wis., for four years and then spent 15 years with the Duluth Airport Authority, most recently as operations director managing day-to-day operations at Duluth International Airport and Sky Harbor Airport.  

How does Duluth Airport compare with Flying Cloud? There are about 68,000 operations (take-offs and landings) per year at Duluth International Airport. So it’s not as busy as Flying Cloud (88,762 operations per year in 2018). But Duluth does have a flight training school as well. And Sky Harbor, which is also managed by the Duluth Airport Authority, is an amphibious sea plane base that accommodates both land and sea plane traffic. We had about 21 people on the staff – it’s not like the MAC with hundreds of people.

Will you miss sea planes? Yes, in a way I will because they’re something different. But I was in one of the hangars at Flying Cloud recently and there was a seaplane in there getting worked on. So it was nice to see – they’re around.


Know before you go: MSP Airport travel tips for the holidays

blue ornament

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) is getting ready for the holidays and an expected increase in passenger numbers at certain times from Thanksgiving to the start of the New Year.

People planning to travel through MSP Airport, or who are picking up or dropping off passengers at Terminal 1, in the coming weeks will want to keep the following in mind:

Arrive Early: Travelers should arrive at the airport two hours ahead of their domestic flight’s departure and three hours ahead for international flights. People traveling with children or seniors, or those who have additional pieces of luggage to check, may want to add some time to that recommendation to ensure an unhurried experience.

Pre-book your parking: There is typically ample parking at MSP during holiday travel periods, due to business travelers staying home for the holidays. But for even more peace of mind, consider using MSP’s NEW Pre-Booked parking service, to ensure a space is available when you arrive. Learn more at


MAC Communications team honored for snow-related work

The MAC's Corporate Communications + Creative Services (CCCS) team was honored Nov. 7 by Airports Council International–North America for its "excellence in communications surrounding any irregular or otherwise unscheduled operation or event" during last season's snowy winter.

The team received the top honor in the "responsive communications" category for its integrated strategy for keeping the traveling public – and MAC employees – informed about MSP Airport operations during significant snow events.

"The team went above and beyond in keeping the public informed about disruptions and the important role the MAC plays in keeping MSP open for business even when the weather takes a turn for the worse," said Naomi Pesky, vice president of Strategy and Stakeholder Engagement.

The department's social media team – including Lindsay Scherer and Travis Schuckert – posted regular updates about airport operations, providing travelers with useful and timely information.  

Videos and photographs were used in advance of weather events that showcased MSP's snow removal team in action to reassure travelers that the airport was "on the job" and ready to clear runways, and to elevate MSP's reputation.

The popular Conga Line video (created by Kari Jo Skogquist) was displayed on the Facebook pages of 865,430 people and triggered extensive media coverage. ​

The MAC's 2020 board meeting schedule is out

The MAC's Board of Commissioners typically meets two days per month and for those looking ahead to 2020, the meeting calendar for next year is now available.

You can find it here.

The board's usual schedule includes committee meetings on the first Monday of the month and a full MAC Commission meeting on the third Monday. The dates do occasionally vary due to holidays or special circumstances.

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