Business Pensacola

Why did it take Hayward two years to hire airport director

July 6, 2016

Most cities take anywhere from six to eight months to hire an airport director. Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward took two years, only to settle on a manager who was already working at the Pensacola International Airport.

The timeline of the Hayward’s decision sheds some light:

June 2014
Greg Donovan announces his resignation as Airport Director

Mayor Ashton Hayward wants to replace Donovan quickly with someone of similar caliber, preferably with Accredited Airport Executive designation like the airport directors of the previous three decades.

“Pensacola International Airport is a critical asset for our city and an economic engine for our entire region,” Hayward told the media. “Having the right leader in place is crucial as we work to continue our airport’s strong growth and maintain its competitive position as the leading airport between New Orleans and Jacksonville.”

Twenty-two applicants received. Seven had A.A.E. designation.

July 2014

August 2014
Donovan leaves, as does City Administrator Colleen Castille.

Dan Flynn named interim airport director.

Tamara Fountain named Chief Operations Officer. Airport is placed under her control.

Dick Barker named interim city administrator. Eric Olson named assistant city administrator.

September 2014
Mayor Ashton Hayward signs a lease with VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering, Inc. (VT MAE) to establish a maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility at Pensacola International Airport.

October 2014
Airport director applicant Chip Snowden is told by HR administrator Ed Sisson that the job search has been suspended because of the election and the mayor is contemplating his options.

November 2014
Hayward wins re-election.

December 2014
COO Fountain tells Inweekly in an interview that the city is conducting a national search for airport director.

January 2015
Chip Snowden is brought to Pensacola for an interview. No written documentation of interview or job offer.

Einstein Bros. Bagels and Pensacola Beach House open in the pre-security area.

February 2015
Snowden rejects job after city refuses to change offer.

March 2015
COO Fountain threatens to fire Flynn for daring to question her authority.

COO Fountain gives Hayward her analysis of airport operations – Memorandum – Airport Analysis:

“I believe there are serious issues in almost every other aspect of the Airport’s management and operation,” wrote Fountain. “Generally speaking, I believe that a pervasive unwillingness on the part of Airport staff to change and adapt, along with an ‘us versus them’ mentality, seriously restricts the ability of City management to effect changes necessary for the Airport to remain competitive and financially viable.”

Fountain recommended: “In light of the Airport’s stagnant and underperforming marketing and air service development efforts, the position of Marketing and Air Service Development Manager should be separated into two positions. Concurrently, the role of the Airport’s external advertising agency should be elevated and more tightly integrated into Airport management’s decision-making processes where marketing, air service development, facilities, real estate, and planning are concerned.”

She did not mention the need to hire an airport director in her memo.

April 2015
COO Fountain follows through with her recommendations. She makes her assistant the airport marketing manager. Emagination Unlimited is given a new contract to market the airport and becomes “tightly integrated into Airport management’s decision-making processes.”

May 2015

June 2015
Chick-Fil-A opens.

July 2015

August 2015
COO Fountain resigns.

Sept 2015-May 2016

June 2016
Hayward settles on Flynn as new airport director.

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What has been the timeline for other cities? Hint: None of them took two years to hire a new airport director.

Dec 2015: Milwaukee County hired a new director for General Mitchell International Airport eight months after the prior airport chief abruptly resigned

March 2016: Augusta Aviation Commission hired Herbert Judon as the executive director of Augusta Regional Airport. He replaced an interim that had served since October 2015.

March 2016: Okaloosa County hired a new airport director. The former director resigned in September 2015.

May 2016: The City of Brownsville hired Bryant Walker as the new director of aviation for the Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport. He replaced an interim that had served since July 2015 after longtime aviation director Larry Brown resigned.

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