CEO of Ford Airport suddenly resigns

Kent County

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The chief executive officer of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport has resigned after less than two years at the airport.

Airport board Chairman Dan Koorndyk refused to tell 24 Hour News 8 precisely why James R. Gill resigned, effective immediately, or whether he did it of his own volition or was asked to leave.

He said only that Gill was resigning for “personal reasons.”

Speaking briefly to 24 Hour News 8 at his home, Gill, who also served as president of the airport and was making $267,500 a year, said he wasn’t forced out and left to seek other opportunities.

“Great opportunities to do some other stuff,” Gill said at the Kentwood apartment complex where he lives. A Ford Airport SUV was parked out front.

Gill wouldn’t say what kinds of opportunities he was seeking.

Gill didn’t attend Friday’s airport board meeting where board members accepted his resignation without discussion following a closed session to discuss personnel matters.

A release from the airport said he would immediately take on a consulting role, “which will allow him to pursue opportunities in the private sector that have been presented to him.”

“I have appreciated the opportunity to play a key role in this exciting growth chapter in the history of the Ford Airport,” Gill said in a statement. “Working together, we have achieved many good things, positioning the airport for continued expansion and growth.”

He went on to say he was pleased that he would be able to stay on and consult.

Gill has led the state’s second-biggest airport since January 2017 and was in charge of day-to-day operations.

During his time at Ford Airport, passenger numbers have continued to grow at a record pace. In 2017, his first year, the airport had its best year ever — the fifth straight year of record-setting growth with 2.8 million passengers.

On Thursday, the airport announced it would surprise its 3 millionth passenger of this year on Wednesday, also a new record.

Before coming to West Michigan, Gill was the chief operating officer and chief financial officer at the Allegheny County Airport Authority in Pittsburgh.  According to the Ford Airport website, he has 25 years of experience in airport management.

“Jim is respected throughout the aeronautics industry,” Koorndyk, the board chairman, said in a statement. “He brought tremendous airport operational knowledge to West Michigan, allowing us to undertake significant enhancements to Ford Airport. We are gratified he will continue to work with our team in a consulting role.”

The board appointed chief financial officer Brian Picardat, who has been with the airport for some 30 years, as interim CEO. The airport said it will hold a national search for a new CEO and president an expects to hire someone next year.

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