Gary/Chicago Intl. Airport Hires New Executive Director

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Gary/Chicago International Airport (GYY) is starting the new year with a new leader. Col. Duane Hayden has been selected as the airport’s next executive director. The GYY Authority Board voted to hire Hayden unanimously Friday.

“The airport today is very different than what it was just four years ago. Our infrastructure, service capabilities and marketability have improved exponentially and the recent and significant investments from the private sector underscore the excitement around the airport’s future,” said GYY Authority Board Chairman Stephen Mays. “Col. Hayden’s significant experience in airport operations and safety are exactly what we need to continue moving the airport forward, and we are thrilled to have him step into this new role.”

For more than two decades, Hayden has worked in the aviation industry and built a reputation as an experienced broad-based aviation manager and safety expert. He spent the last year as GYY’s Chief Operating Officer and Interim Airport Manager through AvPorts, which manages the airport. 

“Gary/Chicago International Airport has experienced tremendous growth over the last few years, particularly since the runway extension was completed,” said Hayden. “There is great momentum at the airport, and I am excited for the opportunity to help lead.”

Hayden was also deputy executive director at GYY from 1999 to 2001.  In between, he spent more than 15 years working in various roles for the Chicago Department of Aviation at O’Hare International Airport, including Assistant Commissioner for Terminal Operations, Assistant Commissioner for Airside Operations/Vehicle Services, and Assistant Commissioner for Safety. Hayden also served as general manager of Meigs Field and worked for United Airlines.

Hayden has been a member of the Illinois Air National Guard since 1986 and was deployed to various conflict regions over the last two-plus decades, including serving in Operations Desert Shield, Deny Flight, Noble Eagle, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Current GYY Executive Director Dan Vicari will remain involved with the airport in a limited role.  Under a cooperative agreement between the GYY Airport Authority, Gary Sanitary District and Gary Storm Water Management District, Vicari will help the Airport Authority develop a long-term strategy for the airport, and help represent the airport before various governmental entities and regulators.  He will also continue in his role as executive director of the Gary Sanitary District.

“2017 was a banner year for the airport and we are grateful to Dan for the work he has done to grow and strengthen the airport during his time as executive director,” said Mays.

Airport operations and revenue generated from landing and fuel fees - all key performance indicators for the airport - have risen steadily over the last five years, including a 150%+ increase in landing fees and 85%+ increase in fuel revenue.  Year-over-year operations totals are also up, growing  11% when comparing August-December 2016 to August-December 2017.

“There is tremendous opportunity at the airport, and I’m ecstatic for the future as the airport fulfills its potential as a leading economic engine for the region,” said Vicari.

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