Tupelo airport narrows director search to six

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo Regional Airport could have a new director by March if the board approves one of six current recruits for the job.
Members of the Tupelo Airport Authority reviewed the resumes during a closed-door session Tuesday. They were joined by a representative of The PACE Group, an executive search firm hired to find candidates.
Among the hopefuls are airport executives from Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. No names or specific airports were provided to the media.
TAA Chairman Dan Kellum said that, after reviewing applications, the authority will invite about half the candidates for interviews. Those could happen as early as Friday.
The director’s position pays roughly $70,000, which comes from the airport budget and is not tied to city finances.
The airport’s top slot has been vacant since the authority’s surprise Dec. 8 firing of then-executive director Terry Anderson. Authority members have yet to reveal a reason for Anderson’s dismissal beyond saying they’d lost confidence in him.
He had been at the airport’s helm nearly 10 years, and his departure came amid intense negotiations over a multimillion-dollar runway extension.
Whomever the TAA picks to replace Anderson will have expertise in a number of areas, Kellum told the Daily Journal.
“We’re looking for people with experience in dealing with the FAA and its regulations, with managing an airport, with dealing with FBOs,” Kellum said. “We have a military base here, so we also want someone who is used to dealing with the military, and someone who knows how to work with commercial airlines, especially Delta.”
The Federal Aviation Administration oversees airports nationwide. And Tupelo Regional Airport serves not only private pilots, but also commercial airlines. Currently, Mesaba/Delta Connection offers daily nonstop flights to and from Tupelo.
The airport also operates a full-service FBO, or fixed-base operation, which provides fueling, flight planning and facilities.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.