Seven scheduled airlines moved over from LaGuardia in 1949 to Idlewild International Airport on its opening day. Until the end of 1957, the airlines at Idlewild lived under one roof, the so-called “Temporary Terminal”, a luxury Quonset hut.
As airline and passenger numbers increased, so did the challenges they faced, so in 1953, the Station Managers formed “IAMCO”, Idlewild Airport Management Council. Their president from 1953-1958 was a legendary figure, the burly and gentlemanly Ronald Burrage of BOAC (British Airways). He remained as “Dean of the Airport” until his retirement in 1971 in England. After his death his ashes were scattered over JFK from a Port Authority helicopter. That was Ronny’s wish.
IAMCO became very active after 1959 with the airport expanding with new Terminal buildings and a sharp increase in passenger traffic spurred on by the dawn of the Jet Age. Domestic service then played a big feeding role. IDL was the primary airport for 75% of all air traffic between the US and Europe. In 1960, almost 9 million passengers were carried through IDL.
In 1964, Idlewild International Airport was renamed as John F. Kennedy International Airport after the death of the President. IAMCO became KAAMCO and gave itself a constitution and by-laws which form the basis of our organization today along with a few amendments to keep up with the changes in our industry. One of those changes allows for a limited deviation from the principle that US and Foreign Airlines must alternate in the Presidency.
In 1957, Annual Conventions and Dinner Dances were introduced. Initially, the new airport hotels were used and eventually the group ventured overseas to Bermuda. Since then, venues overseas and at hoe have been selected for Conventions including Europe (with Papal audience), Near East, South America and the Caribbean. Originally, Convention and the Dinner Dance were both scheduled in the Fall. From the early 80’s, the Annual Convention date was moved to spring time.
Dinner Dances are usually scheduled in prestigious locations such as The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan in 1961, in the United Nations Delegate Dining Room, 1981, and Sir Richard Branson’s Penthouse in London, 1993. The first annual KAAMCO “Yearbook” appeared in 1961 and started a fine tradition.
The role of the Airline Station Manager is very different in 2003 from 1953. Deregulation in 1978 caused the liquidation of some major carriers at JFK, early retirement packages appeared and remaining Station Managers saw a big change in their role and responsibilities. A tour of duty at the most important US airport used to last five to ten years. A manager change was a big event and reason for a far-well party. Now they simply come and go silently, in most cases.
For yesterday and today, KAAMCO is there to serve the community by working closely on common interest issues. A close relationship with the Port Authority NY/NJ and the Government Agencies has been maintained over the years. In the past, KAAMCO was active in the fund drive for the creation of the former Tri-Chapel complex, adjacent to the Fountain and Lake beside the old Control Tower. The members helped each other during blizzards, strikes, other weather difficulties and accidents (not to forget blackouts).
The cargo group was very active and a separate, but associated Airport Security Council accomplished the great results in fighting and lowering cargo theft which had become a plague in the late seventies/early eighties.
KAAMCO became the blueprint for similar organizations at Newark Liberty, LaGuardia and other airport communities around the USA.