PANYNJ Director DeCota Passes Away At 52

William R. DeCota, aviation director at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, died Friday at the age of 52.

DeCota, 52, was named the Port Authority’s aviation director in December 1999. He had first joined the agency as a financial analyst in 1982.

In a statement, the Port Authority said DeCota was a national voice on major airport issues and initiatives throughout his career. In recent years he’s been a staunch advocate of a Port Authority-led effort to advance satellite-based technology aimed at modernizing the U.S. aviation system and reducing delays.

The reining ARN Director of the Year for large- and medium-sized airports, DeCota was recognized in the magazine’s December 2008/January 2009 issue for, among other accomplishments, spearheading $15B worth of capital improvements the past seven years at John F. Kennedy International (JFK), Newark Liberty International (ERW), LaGuardia (LGA), Stewart International (SWF) and Teterboro.

Colleagues, business associates and friends told ARN for a profile in that issue that DeCota was hard-working, passionate, professional, brilliant and able to handle many tasks simultaneously.

“People who know Bill know he works a minimum of six full workdays a week,” Famous Famiglia’s Executive Vice President of Global Business Development Giorgio Kolaj told ARN at the time. “Not only is he incredibly talented in the work that he does, but he churns volumes of work like I’ve never seen anybody do before.”

DeCota has also been an active advocate for the airport industry on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Greg Principato, president of ACI-NA, released a statement in which he called DeCota plain spoken and committed to the industry as a whole and to ensuring the best possible service to the New York/New Jersey region.

“He was respected by airport and airline officials not only in the United States but throughout the world,” Principato wrote. “Despite the tremendous workload in running the world’s largest aviation system, Bill always found time to assist his colleagues, not only while he served on the ACI-NA Board, but anytime someone needed his help.”

According to the Port Authority statement, funeral arrangements are private. But in lieu of flowers, contributions in DeCota’s memory may be made to Elijah’s Promise, 211 Livingston Rd., New Brunswick, N.J. 08901.

Stay tuned for more coverage of DeCota’s career in the upcoming issue of ARN.