Businessman Dick DeVos

Most people don’t know this but Dick DeVos, husband of US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, has been a pilot for most of his life. He started to train early on and got licenses to fly multiple jets and helicopters. In addition to working as the CEO and President of Amway, DeVos has always worked alongside airline executives and airport CEOs. For example, he has been working with the Grand Rapids airport since the 1990s to help improve its ticket sales and business traveler features.


DeVos worked the airport before it became the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in 1999. This was the re-launch of a historic airport and should have brought in more sales, but at first, it was stagnant. The CEO of the airport brought in DeVos to help, who began talking to some of his connections in the industry to help out with new ideas for improvement, such as more destinations for business travelers.


Air Tran agreed to add more destinations in the early 2000s thanks to one phone call from DeVos who insisted that if they added new destinations it would lead to higher ticket sales and traffic. That notion helped talk to the airline executive into opening new terminals for Orlando, St. Louis, Vegas, and Denver. It also worked when Southwest took over Air Tran Airways and the airline was due to shut down several terminals in other airports. DeVos talked to the CEO about the progress that they had made at the airport and whether or not they could keep the terminals due to all of the sales and traffic.


It worked, and now the CEO praises the FAA for appointing DeVos to the civilian board. He will meet with other business aficionados, former airline executives, and transportation officials to advise the FAA. The administration has been dealing with a number of issues including the lack of technology and security wrapped around aviation in America. While many airlines have blown past America in terms of tech integration, there are still a number of ways for the airline industry to upgrade.


DeVos has also helped in other ways and can provide advice on training and employment of pilots. He has worked with his wife to set up the West Michigan aviation academy which trains pilots in Grand Rapids. The movement has led to many students enrolling to become pilots and can work with airlines upon graduation.


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