Aug. 25--HIGH POINT -- The longtime leader of Piedmont Triad International Airport announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of September.
Ted Johnson, who joined the airport in 1968 and has served as executive director since 1993, said he felt the time had come to slow down and pursue new things after accomplishing several major goals, including the opening of the FedEx Corp. cargo hub last year.
He said having other major projects finished, such as construction of a new entrance and exit interchange for the airport and a new runway, also played into his timing. "They were kind of my milestones. When I got that complete, I was ready to step back a little bit," said Johnson, 70. "I've worked all my life and it would be nice to get in a few years of doing some things you just want to do."
The Piedmont Triad Airport Authority will take up the matter of naming Johnson's successor when it meets next month, said Chairman Henry Isaacson.
"I'd give him an A-plus if I had to give him a report card. He just has done an excellent job. He served the airport well," Isaacson said of Johnson. "He was nonpolitical, and he was always attentive to his job and very focused on what was in the best interest of the airport."
Johnson helped guide the FedEx project through a more than 10-year regulatory-approval process that included legal challenges from foes who questioned whether aircraft noise from the overnight sorting operation would degrade the quality of life and hurt property values of residents in some parts of north High Point and other areas near the airport. Advocates eventually won out, and the $300 million project is touted as a major economic development engine for the region.
Johnson's tenure was also beset by challenges, including flat passenger traffic at the airport in recent years. PTIA officials have continuously worked to recruit new airlines, but a shortage of discount carriers, as well as the general state of the economy, have made it difficult to compete with airports in Raleigh and Charlotte, Isaacson said.
"He did a good job with the airlines. He did a good job with our tenants. He brought the HondaJet project, Timco, Cessna and our other tenants along. There were just all kinds of challenges during his tenure," Isaacson said.
Johnson said he looks forward to spending more time on his farm in Jamestown, visiting with his seven grandchildren and pursuing volunteer opportunities.
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