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Kent George Approved as New Director at FLL

On Tuesday, August 28th, the Broward County Board of Commissioners approved Kent George’s appointment as the new director of aviation for Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL). George is currently executive director and CEO of Pittsburgh International (PIT) and will leave behind a legacy of exceptional leadership, including guiding PIT through the bankruptcies of US Airways, transitioning the airport from a hub to an O&D airport, and bringing in a host of low cost carriers. Those successes were especially attractive to several of the commissioners.

“I remember when it [Pittsburgh] was a hub and I’ve been there recently when it’s now transitioned from being a hub. It’s probably one of the best run airports in the U.S.,” says Commissioner Ilene Lieberman. “The facility is clean. You can go anywhere in it. It really is remarkable. They have a range of different types of shops. He’s faced issues similar to what we’ve had.”

Industry sources say George is an excellent choice for FLL, describing him as a “sharp diplomat, able to move comfortably within appropriate political circles.” However, George comes from a style of governance that curtails the presence of politics and in 1998 was charged with transitioning PIT from a county run airport to an airport authority. He tells ARN in the upcoming September issue that he considers the politics surrounding the PIT airport to be minimal. “You always have politics in anything you do whether it’s corporate or public politics. But the [Allegheny County] airport authority does not let politics run their business,” George says in an interview.

County run FLL could pose new challenges for George. The Broward County Board of Commissioners is “vitally involved in airport operations,” according to Kimberly Maroe, public information manager for Broward County. “Because FLL is an enterprise fund and a powerful economic engine Commissioners exercise stringent political oversight.” The airport handles 22M passengers a year, contributes $2.8B to the local economy and employs 20,000 people.

George stated during a board meeting that he intends to keep the commissioners informed. “There will be rough times. There will be times when maybe the public won’t be happy…but I think what we’re going to try to do, with your direction, is provide an airport that meets the needs of Broward County and its growth.”

Compensation Package

George was given a compensation package that reflects the commission’s eagerness to attract a qualified professional. “It is critical that if you’re going to get a top-flight person, you have to offer top-flight dollars, and you have to do it and go to the next level,” notes Mayor Josephus Eggelletion, Jr. “We face great challenges at our airport.”

The Commission approved a five-year contract with an annual salary of $250,000 per year, according to Maroe. George will also receive a $600 per month car allowance, deferred compensation of $15,000 annually and a moving expense reimbursement not to exceed 12-percent of his starting salary. He will also receive a relocation package equal to two months salary.  His severance agreement calls for 18 months severance pay if fired without cause in the first and second year and one year severance pay if fired without cause in years three through five.

George told ARN that his first order of the day will be to evaluate the internal operations of the airport and assess the sentiments within the community about the airport. “There is an awful lot of work to be done,” he says. “It’s akin to drinking from a fire hose. I have a lot to do to get up to speed…It’s a wonderful facility that has tremendous opportunity and significant growth potential. They’re doing some very large capital programs and that’s very interesting and a real challenge.”

George notes that the Allegheny County Airport Authority will meet on September 14th to discuss who will be the next director at PIT, whether it be on an interim or permanent basis.

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