CAK Conducting National Search for CEO

Akron-Canton Airport has hired a headhunter to conduct a national search to find a new CEO.

Whoever is chosen will replace Rick McQueen, who plans to retire late this year.

The airport has hired ADK Consulting and Executive Search, a company it has used in the past to recruit managers.

The consulting firm has been talking with the airport board of trustees, reviewing past applications and assembling a community profile as part of its work.

If all goes according to plan, the applicants for the post will be narrowed to a handful of finalists by mid summer with interviews and visits to the region to begin shortly after that.

Airport officials hope to have a new CEO in position by fall who will work alongside McQueen for two or three months.

McQueen is retiring after working for the airport for 36 years. He began working there in 1982 as an accountant.

He replaced Fred Krum as airport CEO in 2009. Krum had retired after 33 years at Akron-Canton Airport, including 27 years as director.

The next airport CEO is expected to have 15 or more years of airport management experience as well as knowledge of federal, state and local laws, and Federal Aviation Administration requirements.

Officials said that whoever accepts the job might view it as a stepping stone to their next position or a forever job.

The new CEO will face the challenge of trying to reverse a downtown in boardings that has been prompted in large part by the loss of airline service at Akron-Canton and intensified competition for low-fare travelers from airlines that have ramped up their flight offerings at nearby Cleveland Hopkins Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport.

Passenger traffic at Akron-Canton fell to 1.26 million last year, a decline of 9.4 percent from the 1.40 million passengers who used the airport in 2016.

In the past two years Akron-Canton has lost Southwest Airlines and Allegiant Air. It earlier lost Frontier Airlines.

Allegiant moved its flights to Cleveland while Frontier and Southwest have been increasing their presence there.

Akron-Canton suffered another blow this year when Spirit Airlines trimmed its service to one route and ended flights to Las Vegas not long after they began.

Spirit continues to fly from Akron-Canton to Orlando once a day and plans to resume seasonal service to Fort Lauderdale and Tampa in the fall.

On the plus side, United Airlines plans to launch service in June from Akron-Canton to Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, flying one roundtrip a day with regional jet equipment under the United Express brand.

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