Mesa Gateway implements 'family-friendly' project
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport plans to increase its appeal to traveling families, with help from aviation students in the College of Technology and Innovation at Arizona State University. The fast-growing airport, which has served more than one million passengers since Allegiant Air began regular passenger service, sponsored the students’ project as part of a senior capstone course that allows students at the Polytechnic campus to solve management and marketing issues in the airline industry.
“Gateway wanted the research to help develop amenities for families traveling with small children,” says airport spokesman Brian Sexton. “We were very impressed with the results, and we plan to implement some or all of these suggestions as space, time and funds permit.”
An indoor entertainment area is high on the list of potential child-friendly changes. “It’s something we can do readily that can offer relief to traveling parents,” says Sexton.
According to Amanda Cobo, a member of the student team now working for Phoenix-Mesa Gateway, she and other ASU students interviewed travelers at Gateway as well as investigated modifications made to other airports.
“In addition to an indoor play area, they also wanted outdoor play facilities and – to our surprise – more restaurants, stores and cafes on the secure side of the terminal,” Cobo says.
Sexton expects that the changes will be implemented after a $9 million planned terminal expansion is complete.
The aviation capstone program has produced many successful projects over the years. According to professor Mary Niemczyk, head of the Air Transportation Management program, student projects have included an analysis for the FAA of airspace issues at a future Maricopa airport, hangar development at St. John’s Airport, a cost-saving analysis for US Airways, and various Sky Harbor-sponsored projects.
These capstone projects have been a win-win situation throughout the years, according to Niemczyk.
“Students have an opportunity to apply their learning to situations requiring intense problem-solving and critical thinking and industry sponsors have always been thrilled with the results,” she says.
In fact, the sponsors liked what students were doing so much that the course requirements had to be changed to only allow students to take it in their last semester of study.
“They were doing such outstanding work that students were being offered full-time jobs before finishing their degree,” says Niemczyk.