Incoming airport CEO enters trial period


Published: Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Allan Penksa is getting an on-the-job interview to be CEO of the Gainesville Regional Airport.

The airport's oversight authority last week approved a contract with Penksa to be acting chief executive. Penksa was previously the airport's deputy executive director and chief operations officer.

He takes control of day-to-day operations from Rick Crider, the former CEO who leaves Feb. 17 for another job. At that point, Penksa becomes interim chief executive for 90 days.

The Gainesville-Alachua County Regional Airport Authority will use the time period to decide whether to hire Penksa for the job or pursue an outside candidate.

Penksa said he's comfortable running the airport before knowing whether he'll be able to stay in the position.

"I certainly would like the job, but I have no preconceived notions," he said.

He will receive a base salary of $115,000 in the acting and interim positions. He's been with the airport since April 2003, initially serving as director of facilities and maintenance.

Pete Johnson, chairman of the airport authority, said the group will decide later this month whether to start searching for an outside candidate.

But he said he feels Penksa has broad support on a board not known for consensus.

"It's a testament to Allan that everyone supports him," Johnson said.

Before coming to Gainesville, Penksa served as director of a small airport in western Pennsylvania.

He comes into a leadership role here at a time when the airport is juggling several major projects.

Facilities for small-jet maker Eclipse Aviation and air-taxi service DayJet are scheduled to open in the coming months. The renovation of the passenger terminal is planned to be completed by year's end. A new entrance road and corporate jet hangars are on the horizon.

Penksa said he's not overwhelmed by the tasks at hand.

"Certainly we have a lot of balls in the air," he said. "We're just hitting them one by one."

Penksa said his job will go beyond running the airport. He'll also be looking to replace Northwest Airlines, which stopped offering service to Gainesville in May.

He said he'll be meeting with carriers to see if they'll expand offerings here.

"The number one goal is always to improve air service," he said.

Nathan Crabbe can be reached at 352-338-3176 or crabben@gvillesun.com.Sun staff writer

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