Human Resources and Travel & Tourism

Ford airport names president and CEO

November 30, 2016
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Jim Gill
Jim Gill. Courtesy Gerald R. Ford International Airport

Gerald R. Ford International Airport named its new president and CEO.

The airport authority board voted unanimously today to hire James “Jim” Gill to the position. He will officially take over leadership on Jan. 9.

Most recently, Gill has served as COO and CFO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority in Pittsburgh, which oversees Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County Airport and serves more than eight-million passengers per year. 

Gill replaces Brian Ryks, who resigned in March to accept a position as CEO of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Roger Morgan, board chairman of Ford airport, said Gill has a record of “strong leadership" and community partnerships and is “well respected” among his peers in the aviation industry.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jim to West Michigan, and we know he will thrive as the next CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport,” Morgan said.

Gill said he’s “delighted” to join Ford airport.

He said one of the things that attracted him to the airport is its growth.

Ford airport was named the top airport of its size in the region in 2015 by Airports Council International, and it welcomed 2.5-million passengers last year, setting a new record. It is on pace to break another passenger record for 2016.

Morgan and Floyd Wilson, an airport board member, headed the CEO search committee. Steve Baldwin & Associates, an airport management consulting firm based out of Albany, New York, assisted in the recruiting process.

Gill's background

Gill is an industry veteran with more than two decades of senior airport management experience.

He has spent the past 13 years at the Allegheny County Airport Authority, becoming its CFO in 2007 and adding COO to his duties in 2015. He has also served as its interim executive director.

Gill also spent six years at the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority as deputy airport director and CFO.

He is an accredited airport executive with the American Association of Airport Executives and an international airport professional through Airports Council International, one of a “very select group” of airport professionals to hold both credentials.

Gill has had many successes in his career, including overseeing the transfer of Pittsburgh International Airport from county control to a new independent airport authority.

The “multi-year, complex process” required “significant operational knowledge and dynamic collaboration” with a variety of stakeholders including the FAA, which ultimately must approve the transfer.

While serving as interim executive director at Pittsburgh, Gill facilitated an agreement to have Allegiant Air begin point-to-point service there as the airline’s first medium hub, a successful operation which has grown from five destinations in 2014 to eleven destinations today.

Airport renovations

Ford airport is currently undergoing several major renovations as part of its Gateway Transformation Project, a three-phase project, with phase one set to be completed next summer.

Its renovated Airport Viewing Park is set to open in the spring, and airport leadership is also underway in updating the airport's Master Plan.

“I am really looking forward to seeing all of these projects come to fruition and to be the leader that helps drive even more growth and development in the future,” Gill said.

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