The Connecticut Airport Authority is giving Executive Director Kevin Dillon high marks for 2018, a year that has brought Bradley International Airport an extension of its sole European route, a new cargo operation with 160 jobs, and an uptick in traveler numbers.
The CAA board met Monday, and in executive session began its year-end performance review for Dillon and the goal-setting process for 2019.
Dillon makes a base salary of $306,521 and is eligible for bonuses of up to 20 percent of his salary, an airport spokeswoman said. The board will meet again in January to conclude the year-end review process.
“There’s a lot to contemplate. We’ve had a very successful year,” said CAA Chairman Thomas A. “Tony” Sheridan. “I think the board is very happy: 2018’s growth of the airport has been significant, so there’s a lot of good news coming out this year. Things are going very well, particularly at Bradley.”
The review comes on the heels of high marks from passengers in a Condé Nast Traveler survey, which named Bradley the third-best airport in the country based on convenience, amenities and atmosphere.
It also follows the relocation of Pinnacle Logistics, an Amazon contractor, and the announcement in September that the Aer Lingus flight to Ireland would be extended for four years. The agreement carries substantial state subsidies that insulate the airline from losses “if total revenue falls short of a pre-determined target,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a news release announcing the deal.
The CAA is the quasi-public agency responsible for oversight of Bradley and five smaller regional airports including Hartford-Brainard.
With Dillon at the helm, Bradley leaders have high ambitions to grow annual passenger numbers from 6.5 million now to more than 10 million. A new transportation center is on the way which will bring rental car companies onto the airport property for the first time, and renovations to restrooms, restaurants and kiosks are all coming, Dillon said Monday.
“We probably will start to look at other international services in 2019, but let’s face it, the bread and butter of Bradley will always be the domestic menu of services,” Dillon said.
Caribbean destinations like Jamaica are a priority for 2019, but so are Austin, Milwaukee, Nashville, Jacksonville and west coast cities to build on Los Angeles and San Francisco flights.
“Seattle, I think, is a logical next expansion for us because of the obvious aerospace connectivity,” he said. “We know the thing that we’re selling at Bradley is convenience. We’re never going to have the route structure that Boston has or New York has, but what we’re selling to folks is the convenience of the services so that’s going to continue to be a focus in 2019.”
The CAA board did not discuss the terms of a possible pay or benefit boost for Dillon in the public portion of its meeting.
Board member and Human Resources Committee Chairman Robert J. Aaronson said Dillon and other top-level staff made a presentation at the committee’s Dec. 5 meeting that highlighted their successes.
“The committee found itself in strong agreement with the assessment presented to us that the organization had a very, very good year in 2018,” Aaronson said. He said meeting goals on customer service, airline service and financial performance showed a “superior” performance by Dillon.
The Connecticut Airport Authority was created in 2011 to make the airports a standalone agency rather than a state DOT department. It took over Bradley operations in 2013. The number of passengers traveling through Bradley has grown in each of the six years since.
January will bring the first administration change the still-young agency has experienced. Several of the board’s 11 members are administration representatives — the commissioners of transportation and economic development, and the state treasurer — and a few more are appointed by the governor.
Dillon is the co-chairman of Governor-elect Ned Lamont’s transportation policy committee. He said working on Lamont’s transition team is an opportunity to discuss long-term needs like rail and bus links for the airport.