Anderson: Airport leadership a 'train wreck'

TUPELO – Even after being fired as executive director of the Tupelo Regional Airport in December, Terry Anderson hasn’t missed a meeting of the airport authority, taking copious notes at each gathering.
On Tuesday, Anderson said he was speaking as “a taxpayer and citizen” to the board, describing it as “full of secrecy, spin and control.”
Anderson, along with former board chairman Chuck Moffatt, each were given five minutes to address the board.
Anderson alleged that the five-man Tupelo Airport Authority, which oversees the operations of the airport, “is being run like a good old-boy network.”
He said that the leadership of the airport has missed federal and state funding opportunities, and even worse, has not delivered a balanced budget.
“They say they lost $200,000 last year, but how do they know?” he said. “I know for a fact that in 2009 we didn’t take one dime from the city. … for the first decade of the 2000s we were balanced. In less than a year we have this.”
Board members, plus current TRA Executive Director Josh Abramson, sat quietly during Anderson’s talk and declined to comment after the meeting.
They also declined to talk about Moffatt’s allegations that Tupelo Aviation Unlimited, the airport’s fixed-base operator what provides aircraft work and other services, overcharged him for an annual maintenance checkup on his plane.
Moffatt said that TAU, board chairman Bo Gibens and Abramson have refused to provide invoices to show the cost of work done on his plane, which cost $17,000.
“That’s three times more than what it should cost,” Moffatt said. “I was given no opportunity to approve the charges or not. I was told by Mr. Gibens in an official meeting with the executive director that I had to pay it – and I did. But I can tell you I will never, ever do any more business there.”
Moffatt said other pilots he knows feel the same way.
Anderson, meanwhile, said the airport is in dire shape because of a lack of experience and leadership.
“This is no sour grapes, only a genuine concern,” he said. “We have to turn this train wreck around.”
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal