Big changes are coming to the senior management team at Lehigh Valley International Airport near Allentown.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority unanimously voted to hire Charles Everett, Jr., as the airport’s executive director.
That may not sound like news because Everett already is the airport’s executive director. But currently he is employed by Avports, a management team that operates the airport for the authority.
The board’s action makes Everett a direct employee of the airport authority. It also apparently marks the beginning of the end for Avports at Lehigh Valley International, which will save the financially-challenged authority hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
“He’s demonstrated that he’s the right guy right now,” said authority chairman Tony Iannelli. “He has done an outstanding job.”
Ironically, the airport authority hoped Avports would help increase profits when it hired the management company in August 2011.
Everett said his salary will remain the same: $142,000 a year.
Both Everett and Iannelli stressed Everett will be an “at will” employee, with no contract. “He will be working hard to prove himself,” said Iannelli. “We’re hoping this is a long-term marriage.”
After the board’s vote, Everett said five people on his staff also work for Avports. He explained it will be up to him to decide whether he rehires any of them. He said he does intend to rehire some, but added: “I’m not sure which ones.”
“Some of the senior management will find themselves out of work,” said Iannelli.
Those five senior managers are:
· Thomas Stoudt, director of operations, safety and systems.
· Susan Kittle, director of external affairs.
· Sherri McTavish, director of administration and finance.
· Brian Sinnwell, director of planning and facilities.
· Darren Betters, director of commercial services.
The airport also had a vacant deputy director position, but Everett said that was eliminated in the 2013 budget.
Everett has been managing the airport since September 2011.
Before coming to LVIA, he was a Congressional Liaison with the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, D.C.
“I left a career position at FAA to be an airport manager, something I really wanted to do,” said Everett. “Avports and the airport authority gave me that opportunity.
“I’m delighted that the board has the confidence in me and believes I will work well. I look forward to working with them as an employee.”
He said his sole charge will be to serve the airport’s board by implementing its policies and decisions. “We have a very good working relationship.”
The authority’s management contract with Avports runs through the end of this year. Iannelli said the authority has not yet made a formal decision to not renew that contract. But he added hiring Everett away from Avports “certainly doesn’t enhance the potential for renewal of that contract.”
Iannelli also said: “It didn’t make sense to wait until the eleventh hour to move forward if we weren’t going to have Avports as part of the future.”
He said eliminating the contract with Avports will save the airport authority money, as will reducing the management staff. He added: “We could improve staff.”