Kevin A. Dillon, Executive Director of the the Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA), is tasked with the goal of working with the CAA board and its many stakeholders to transform Bradley International and the state’s five general aviation airports into vibrant economic drivers for the state.

“Hiring Kevin Dillon was a major step towards achieving our mission of turning the state’s airports into key economic forces for the state,” said CAA Chair Mary Ellen Jones. “Kevin, a talented and experienced airport executive, brings keen focus to this mission and he is already making a difference.”

Airport stakeholders are very interested in the CAA’s and Dillon’s priorities as well as plans to help advance economic growth around the airports and across Connecticut. In this edition of “The Airport News,” the CAA provides readers with an opportunity to get to know the new Executive Director in this exclusive interview with Kevin Dillon.
What attracted you to the position at the CAA?
Having worked in the airport industry for more than 36 years, I know a good opportunity when I see one. And this position is an exciting opportunity to build a new authority that will help maximize the potential of the state’s airports and develop economic growth across Connecticut.

My diverse experience has given me a good understanding for what is necessary to create a successful airport. Bradley International Airport and the state’s general aviation airports have a lot of potential. With Bradley’s great highway access and central location in New England, it is an important regional economic asset. You don’t have to deal with lengthy traffic delays, tolls, and parking issues which plague other airports in the region.

Another thing that attracted me to this position was the strong foundation already in place with a committed CAA Board and the existing personnel at the state’s airports. I have also seen great support from the Governor’s Office, the legislature, the Connecticut Department of Transportation and other key stakeholders – all of whom are dedicated to continuing to provide excellent customer service at Bradley and the five general aviation airports in Connecticut.

What is your definition of a successful airport? Do the state’s airports meet your criteria for successful airports?
A successful airport meets the transportation needs of the people in the region while serving as an economic generator for the area. The CAA’s mission is to turn the state’s airports into economic catalysts for the state. In my first few months as Executive Director, I have been very impressed with the political and business groups coming together in support of this mission. There have been a number of recent successes at the airports and I believe that there will be many more to come.

Can you provide some examples of recent successes accomplished by the CAA?
Our most recent customer service enhancement was the creation of a cell phone waiting lot on Light Lane near Route 75. It provides our customers with a safe and secure place to park while waiting for passengers to arrive. We also posted trailblazer signs at Terminal A and provide maps to make it easy for people to find the cell phone waiting lot.

The streamlined Bradley Airport Development Zone procedure approved by the CAA board in May 2012 is an excellent example of how we are making it easier to do business in Connecticut. This new user-friendly procedure is already helping promote economic development and job growth with two companies, NuFern and Merchandising Partners, expanding their businesses in the zone as a result of its benefits. The board also gave preliminary approval for Metal Finish Equipment and Supply Company to be part of zone.

More business means more jobs and economic growth in Connecticut. The expansion of NuFern and Merchandising Partners brought in more than 55 jobs to the area. At the end of last year, JetBlue Airways added 38 new jobs at Bradley Airport, demonstrating the importance of Bradley Airport to the airline’s route network.

The CAA board also took a vital step in promoting economic growth around the state’s general aviation airports by approving a procedure to create development zones around the state’s five general aviation airports. The statute requires the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to submit zone proposals to the CAA. The CAA and DECD will work together to utilize zone development as a tool for economic development.

What is your main priority for Bradley International and the state’s general aviation airports?
Our main priority at Bradley International Airport is route development – both domestic and international. We recently hosted a business roundtable, where 19 area businesses and universities were surveyed about their travel needs. This information gives us a better understanding of the business community’s route and development desires and will be invaluable as we continue to meet with airlines. To help bring in new routes and airlines, we have developed an airline incentive package.

Strengthening Bradley Airport’s market reach is another strategic focus of the CAA. The Airport has much to offer with its Central New England location and accessibility. This is something we will continue to reinforce with our passengers, airlines and cargo operators.

Another priority at Bradley and the state’s general aviation airports is to continue to enhance the customer experience regarding our facilities and performance. This includes continuing to streamline the processes for getting things done and making it easier to do business in Connecticut. Many of the airports’ stakeholders have already noticed improvement at the six airports.

Are you planning to return a transatlantic flight to/from Bradley International Airport? What about plans for additional domestic routes?
We are working with airlines and area companies to determine if a transatlantic flight is economically feasible. According to the results of our recent business roundtable survey, London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam are the most-requested international destinations. Our job is to present this information to our airline partners so that everyone can make informed decisions and be assured that a new route will work.

Airports and airlines are currently working to establish routes for 2013 and beyond. We have been and will continue to discuss additional domestic service to/from Bradley International Airport. An international launch of service will take longer to develop than new domestic routes. It will take at least 15 to 18 months to achieve an international flight. Bradley may start with a charter service in order to establish a foundation for regular daily non-stop international service.

What are the plans for Terminal B?
Current market forecasts have pushed out the timeline for building a new terminal. The CAA is taking steps to position Bradley International Airport to a point where it warrants a new terminal. We are currently working to continue to advance the associated enabling projects (a reconfigured roadway system, a new parking garage with consolidated rental car facilities, and various utility projects) that will enhance the Airport’s operations and lay the groundwork for a new terminal.