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   Vol. 23 No. 3

Monday January 29, 2024



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Dan Muscatello

Dan Muscatello True Confessions     Dan Muscatello, who died Tuesday January 23 was for all his decades of service a true original in air cargo and an airport advocate and innovator.
     Here with his friend Michael Webber’s lovely homage, that includes a plethora of air cargo and airport industry people, we gain an insight of Dan.
     As we say farewell and celebrate Dan, here is also an up close and personal profile we created that includes text written in 2015 by our dearly departed Richard Malkin.
     Reading Dan and Dick going at it, am struck by the relevance of their conversation that we share with you a decade later.
     Imagination takes flight, as we celebrate the life and times and legacy of Dan Muscatello.


Michael Webber     Since arriving in this industry as a 20-something in 1993, I’ve only known an air cargo industry heavily influenced by Dan Muscatello who passed away Tuesday evening on January 23rd. My first airport job was as Director of Marketing & Economic Development for the Jackson (MS) Municipal Airport Authority which one could be forgiven for believing would not have provided much standing among the industry veterans who were then exploring the formation of an air cargo working group within Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA).
     However, Dan was immediately generous with his time and in my more than thirty years knowing Dan, he was never dismissive of anyone on the basis of age or their perceived place in the industry pecking order. Don’t get me wrong, Dan colorfully took his nemeses down a peg or two but with an artfulness that I often found entertaining, but he never punched down. It helped that we were often irritated by the same people and phenomena.
     Given Dan’s receptiveness to young people who were just learning the ropes, it should be no surprise that he was something of a mentor to so many of my contemporaries. Dan initiated so many initiatives in our industry - especially within but not limited to ACI-NA - that are easily taken for granted. It’s almost too easy to forget that somebody had to have nurtured these into being – and that somebody was typically Dan Muscatello. Over the decades, I’ve occasionally heard grumbling about how much influence Dan had over certain entities and efforts. Consistently, my rebuttal has been that Dan was willing to work harder on these industry initiatives than would anyone else (including me!) and had his critics been willing to commit as much energy, they too could have had more influence. Dan never turned down any support or collaboration. In fact, he was often disappointed that more of it wasn’t offered.
     In the last year or so of Dan’s life, he was most professionally active with the Airforwarder’s Association’s (AfA) effort to address truck congestion at U.S. airports. Dan authored a “white paper” for the AfA and had hoped to provide testimony to Congress as that initiative progresses but his longtime illnesses finally overwhelmed his physical abilities. At Dan’s request, I edited his white paper and executive summaries in a collaborative style that we probably had used in the 1990s when we co-authored chapters for the ACI-NA Air Cargo Compendium and then more recently as coworkers at the airport planning firm Landrum & Brown in 2017-18. Among airport planners, Dan was a superior writer and editing his documents was never as demanding as for many I have edited over the years.
     Recounting a recent scene that will seem bizarre to those who never knew the man but only too familiar to those who did, not long ago I received a call from Dan who wanted to strategize about how to garner more airport support for the congestion effort. There was a cacophony of noise crowding Dan’s voice and I asked if he’d prefer to call later when it might be quieter. “Nah, Mike, I’m in the hospital and it’s probably not going to get any quieter than this!” I can only imagine what the medical professionals thought of the guy barking out air cargo-oriented minutiae while they were trying to change his IV drip.
     Enough people in our industry know that Dan and I had a falling out in recent years that it would be disingenuous of me to wholly ignore. While I would have preferred to avoid being on the receiving end of Dan’s barbs, I am grateful for a friendship that I enjoyed for most of thirty years I knew Dan and for all that he contributed to our industry. I’m also relieved that our last private conversations were constructive exchanges mostly about airport congestion but with friendly sidebars about our lives.
     I am glad to have known Dan and under the circumstances, pleased to share the following from many colleagues who offered their own reflections on this singular guy.

Ray BrimbleRay Brimble, Founder and CEO, Lynxs Group
     We all know that Dan was a giant of the industry. But I refer to him as another kind of giant, the “Big Foot” of the industry. Before you jump the conclusion that this is a criticism, just know that I am from Austin, home of Yeti (coolers for your beer, in case you have been living on the moon, or in some place with no beer worth keeping cool). So, to me, Yetis are cool—Dan was a cool Yeti, er, Big Foot. Dan’s footprint was huge, just like a Yeti, he was everywhere, all the time, and knew more about almost any airport than almost anyone- we all benefited from this institutional knowledge and wisdom. Dan worked on BIG stuff—airport cities, global sized airports, master plans written for Masters of the Universe. Me, working on that 1,500 sft cargo shed at West Podunk Intl. Airport, was awed by the biggi-ness of Dan’s projects. Another thing like Big Foot . . . Dan-sightings were frequent and far flung. I could never go to an airport conference, or visit an airport director without hearing, “I just saw your buddy, Dan Muscatello.” For these, and many other reasons, Dan, like Big Foot, is a legend. May the legend be remembered, and appreciated in the future by all who follow in those very big foot steps.

Jennifer Carter, Vice President, National Accounts-Realterm
Jennifer Carter     I consider myself very fortunate to have known Dan for the past 17 years and call him a dear friend. Everything he did was with passion, dedication, and extraordinary determination.
     Dan’s dedication to the Air Cargo Industry will be his legacy. Dan had such conviction, that he was working on a white paper with his final days. That is how much he cared for bettering the future of our industry for generations to come.      He was an “unofficial” mentor to many of us, always willing to chat and provide his unparalleled industry expertise.
     We have truly lost an industry icon . . . it will take many of us to collectively try to equal Dan. For as motivated and passionate as he was for the Aviation Industry, his world revolved around his 2 daughters and family.
     He always made a point to brag about them. The best way we can all do to honor him is to ignite our fires of passion a little brighter and work together to better the future of our community.

Doug Goldberg, Dan Muscatello

Doug Goldberg President/CEO Worldwide Aviation at Strategic Aviation Services
     From my backyard pizza oven to Boston, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, and many points in between, I have had the pleasure and opportunity to learn from Dan about all things related not only to air cargo, but also airport and land use development strategy, and life in general. Dan was always switched on – day or night, weekends, and holidays. For any opportunity, project, or client, Dan was usually the first to offer an idea, a contact, or an approach to address the challenge, to solve the problem, to ask, “what if?”, to answer the question. Dan did not mince words. If you ask for his advice, you had better be ready to hear what he thinks – because he will give you the honest truth whether you like it or not. Nothing is sugar-coated. You can always count on Dan for a witty, irreverent comment to lighten the mood, whether it be in a formal presentation, or a routine zoom call. And I would not have it any other way.
     Since I first met Dan over 20 years ago, he has been a colleague, a mentor, and a friend. He provided meaningful advice about work, clients, leadership, and relationships. And he has never let me down, except perhaps for the time he showed up at the airport for a flight to India to present a cargo study without a visa – as he turned to return home after being told he cannot get on the flight, I recall him saying, “Good luck with the presentation – you’ll do fine - I am going home to watch the Kentucky Derby”. Fact is, he prepared me well for that meeting. We shared many dinners at the end of a long day strategizing next steps for the project, how best to secure a win, and most importantly, the little things our kids might have done that make us proud or drive us crazy.
     Dan and I had a chance to reminisce about old times and new projects on January 5 for a few hours at his home. I am so glad to have had that opportunity. Dan is unique. He makes people around him better. I am a better person for knowing him.

Michael L. MinearMichael L. Minear, Airport Property Solutions, LLC
     I'm grateful to have known and learned from Dan for nearly 20 years. Dan seemed to always have an idea to share and love putting people together to make things happen.
      While he was private about his personal experiences, I was privileged once to hear him describe his service in the Army Special Forces, including 22 combat parachute jumps. Not many like him lived to tell about it and he rarely spoke of it.
      He led with a passion for the air cargo industry and will be greatly missed.

Steve ForrerSteve Forrer, Chief Investment Officer at Aviation Facilities Company, Inc. (AFCO)
     Dan deserves widely shared respect as an OG (original gangster) in the air cargo space - irrespective of one’s views on any particulars where one may have differed with his opinions. He was one of the first names that came up when I was considering making a professional commitment to the air cargo/airport infrastructure sector over two + decades ago. Over that time, our paths crossed regularly on project opportunities, public policy initiatives, and industry events where Dan has been a consistent contributor to thoughtful and informed discussions. His training and combat experience as a Marine prepared him well for staying calm, focused, and living a life beyond self-interests for the benefit of his family, friends, and fellow citizens. The air cargo industry is fortunate to have had him as a member of the community.

Robert KennedyRobert Kennedy, A.A.E., IAP, Consultant and former Aviation Director
     Dan was an unexpected benefactor who appeared in my professional world and became a friend. In the early 90s, Dan was a seasoned professional, globally recognized for his expertise in air cargo development. I was the first Air Cargo Development Officer at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, with so much to learn. Dan took me under his wing, guiding me, selflessly sharing his knowledge, helping me learn the skills I needed to be successful. As I progressed in my career, Dan would remind me of my obligation to make the industry better by sharing my knowledge and experiences, and most importantly by providing help where I could. Dan’s passion for caring, innovating, sharing, and mentoring has greatly influenced both my professional and personal life. He will be greatly missed by many friends and colleagues.

Roy A. Williams, Former Director, Dayton International Airport, Salt Lake City International Airport, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport;
Former Chair ACI-NA Air Cargo Subcommittee; Air Cargo Committee; Economics Committee

Roy A. Williams     Dan brought a special understanding of air cargo from his many years at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He pushed the airport industry to focus on the economics of air cargo, and how airports could meet and finance the special needs of the deregulated cargo industry. During my time at Dayton accommodating the growth of the Emery Worldwide air cargo hub, Dan and I worked together to build an air cargo focus at ACI-NA, with a steering group, then a subcommittee of the Economic Committee, and ultimately a full Committee. With this structure, air cargo receives attention and support in airports, in the air cargo industry and in our relations of passenger carriers, and strong voices like Dan’s, and strong structures such as the Cargo Committee are essential to the success of the airport/air cargo relationship.

Adam RodAdam S. Rod, Assistant Commissioner - Cargo Operations & Development
Chicago Department of Aviation     

     Dan was a true force in our industry over many decades. He was a mentor, a sage, and a friend who pushed for innovation and education at every turn. When we first met many years ago, including through Airports Council International, he generously saw my newbie potential as a future leader in the industry, and he nurtured me so to be part of the Air Cargo Committee he founded. When I was ultimately elected Committee Chair, leave it to Dan to still push hard and challenge me to be my very best for ACI and beyond. That is a great legacy—not only a leader in his own right but enhancing others all around him for a cause he passionately loved. A simple and gracious thank you, Dan. You will be missed. My love and thoughts are with your family during this difficult time.

Douglas C. BañezDouglas C. Bañez, Managing Director
     I met Dan in the latter part of his career, but, long before that, I knew of his high standing in the air cargo industry. We first worked together on the ACI Air Cargo Committee and later partnered on several projects for our respective consulting firms. During these engagements, Dan’s respect for my contributions gave me confidence that I was providing value to clients which, in turn, helped me grow as a professional. While Dan’s impact on my career is immeasurable, it’s his friendship that I will cherish most. I’ll miss his quick wit and the laughs we often shared. Dan was always giving of his knowledge and his time. I’ll strive to live up to the standards he set.

Dan Muscatello, Jeff Thomas, Sheila Thomas, Michael Webber

Sheila M. Thomas, Senior Principal-Strategic Planning Services Transportation Planning & Development
     I first began working with Dan on the Cargo Planning for Dubai Al Maktoum airport in 2008. But it was when we worked together on Abu Dhabi Airport in 2009 and 2010 that we really became close friends. I learned everything I know about cargo and logistics, as well as feasibility analysis of collateral development, from working with Dan. Since Dan did not draw, I went on to draw many cargo layouts for Dan for airport plans in China, India and South Africa. Trips where I could work side by side and present concepts to clients with Dan were always a plus.
     I also learned about Dan as a person. Dan had the highest professional standards, a great wit, and a playful sense of humor. His smile and laugh are indelibly etched into my memory. The highest compliment he ever gave me was that he would “share a fox hole with me” and would always have my “six.” His calm and controlled demeanor also greatly helped my sanity when we dealt with more difficult clients. I am a better professional because of working closely with Dan. I am personally grateful for having been lucky enough to also have been his friend. His memory will always be with me and I will miss him.

Jeffrey N. Thomas, Senior Principal-Strategic Planning Services Transportation Planning & Development
     I had the privilege of solving problems with Dan over the years as a consultant, as an employee and as a friend. The brilliance of his ideas was only exceeded by the depth of his professionalism and his immense sense of humor. A man who uplifted those around him, one of a kind. May he rest in peace.

Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (retired)
     In the late nineties and early two thousands I served on the Air Cargo Committee for ACI World along with Dan Muscatello and I was always impressed with both his knowledge, as well as how hard he worked for the committee.

Emir PinedaEmir Pineda, Trade & Logistics Manager for the Marketing Division of the Miami-Dade Aviation Department
     I met Dan while he was with the Port Authority (PANYNJ) and I was just starting my career at MIA. He has always been so open, sharing his knowledge and experience in the air cargo industry, something I always appreciated. A person I have admired throughout my career. Someone who always gave his maximum effort for the benefit of the entire cargo industry. I and the entire air cargo industry are going to miss you. God bless you Dan.

Brandon FriedBrandon Fried, Airforwarders Association (AfA)
     Dan's passing left a gaping hole in our industry and in our hearts. His infectious laughter, keen insights, and ability to find humor in even the driest details will be sorely missed.
     Dan wasn't just a colleague; he was a bridge builder. He demystified the complexities of airport operations for freight forwarders and championed industry needs with infectious humor and unwavering dedication. His work on airport congestion, working to help us secure crucial funding from Capitol Hill for cargo infrastructure improvements, stands as a testament to his impact.
     We miss you, Dan. Your legacy lives on in every smoothly flowing cargo bay and every smile we share in the face of industry chaos. Rest in peace, friend.

Warren JonesWarren Jones, VP of Business Development, AGI
      For the past 20 years there was one person who you could call and talk air cargo with more than anyone else and that was Dan Muscatello. Most people would not know his name or his vast accomplishments in air cargo but if they did, you would agree with me that his name and accomplishment are worthy of the TIACA Hall of Fame and its distinguished honored dignitaries. Dan was the consultant behind the scenes in air cargo and always pushing for reform, new ideas and just a better way to help people and the industry he loved. When Dan talked, people listened.  Thank you, Dan, for your service and for everything you did in Air Cargo.

     Very grateful to all of the contributors who have shared their memories of Dan.      Dan’s family and others will craft a more conventional biographical treatment of his life. That wasn’t my aspiration here. Rather, I hoped we might provide a sense of Dan’s character and his professional legacy and I am satisfied.
     While reviewing my own introductory section, as well as the testimonials that followed, another memory occurred to me. As long as I knew Dan, we often discussed music. Given his own penchant for bluster, I was often amused by his suggestion that I was overly opinionated about music and in serious need of moderation. I recall thinking “how bad must I be if Dan thinks I need to tone it down?”
     What I only found out late and in unusual circumstances was that Dan Muscatello had a fine tenor singing voice. We were working on a project in Xi’an, China when our host-client sprung a surprise karaoke-style audible during dinner. After a few solos by various members of the Chinese client, the demand was made for reciprocal offerings from our side. Much as I love music, I learned long ago that I’m intended to be nothing more than an exceptional listener. However, Dan and Sheila Thomas bravely stepped up to the plate with Dan offering a sublime, a capella “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That's an Irish Lullaby)". I was flabbergasted by the beauty. On our walk back to the hotel afterwards, Dan shared that he’d sung in his high school glee club. I’d have never guessed.
     It has been less than 24 hours since Dan passed. Agnostic as I am, I can’t help but chuckle at a recurring image I have of Dan having passed through the pearly gates and shortly thereafter, cornering God with a few early ideas he already has for improving the whole onboarding process in Heaven. Dan is already forming a working group to draft a white paper on the subject.
Michael Webber
Wednesday January 24

Post Postscript
     As he concluded this gathering for Dan from so many wonderful people, Mike Webber added some music.
     Mike from Kansas City attended Tulane University in New Orleans and undoubtedly witnessed many musical celebrations of lives well-lived and otherwise at final rites in both great cities.
     For Dan, Mike’s pairimg of Harry Belafonte’s reading of Danny Boy, and Van Morrison & The Band’s “Tura, Lura, Lura” and BP Fallon's, Increasingly Often, are thoughtful and lovely.
     We added one song from Abba recorded in 2021, an instant classic pop tune rock epoch titled, Keep an Eye On Dan.
     The song in verse has nothing to do with our Dan, but at his loss, the title and the music are a powerful hook.
     The music has a nice chuga-chuga beat like a dance band in a park during summer. The synthesizer layering in the tune is irresistible.
     This is catchy classic rock music with one line in the song tugging at our heart every time it is repeated:
     Keep An Eye On Dan, And Don’t Forget!

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