Palo Alto has yet to take over the operations of its namesake airport, but it has already hired the man who will be in charge of steering the small but bustling facility to success.
The city announced Monday that it has tapped Andrew J. Swanson, former manager of Nut Tree Airport in Solano County, to be its airport manager. As the first occupant of the new position, Swanson will oversee Palo Alto Airport, an airport that has been managed by Santa Clara County since 1967 under a 50-year lease. While the lease isn't scheduled to expire until 2017, county officials have indicated that they don't intend to renew the lease, prompting the council to consider an earlier takeover of the airport.
As the airport manager, Swanson may find himself in charge of Palo Alto Airport as soon as December of this year. According to the city's announcement, Swanson was chosen after a recruitment process that included interview panels featuring city staff, airport users and a former airport manager.
Swanson began his duties last week and has an annual salary of $128,000.
In a statement, city officials touted Swanson's 10 years of experience in airport administration and facilities management and credited him with making "significant improvements" to Nut Tree Airport's operational practices, staff training and customer-service efforts. The statement also credits Swanson for "fostering an entrepreneurial culture in the organization and updating key airport operational documents such as a Master Plan, Capital Improvement Plan and Business Plan."
"Andrew brings outstanding airport operations and facility management experience to Palo Alto as well as a strong customer service focus," Public Works Director Mike Sartor said in the statement. "These skills will serve us well as we transition the airport to a new City venture."
Before Nut Tree, Swanson served as airport operations supervisor and acting manager at San Mateo County airports. In a statement, Swanson called the Palo Alto Airport "a real jewel among the Bay Area's general aviation airports" and called the city's takeover "an exciting opportunity for the City and the future of the airport."
"I am very pleased to be a part of the City team that will facilitate the smooth transition of airport operations from the County to the City this year," Swanson said.