During his second day on the job, Palm Springs International Airport's Executive Director Thomas Nolan assured his new boss, Palm Springs City Manager David Ready, he would not let him down.
With custodians, directors, police officers and firefighters arranged behind him, Nolan said he aimed to rekindle a collegial atmosphere among the airport's staff.
"It's not about Tom Nolan, it's about the team," he said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Nolan said the airport's key goals include finishing construction of a new regional concourse that will add eight new gates in the next few months, securing Federal Aviation Administration funding to replace the airport's aging control tower, and overhauling the concession area.
"It's good, but it could be a lot better," he said of the concession area.
Recruiting more airlines and adding routes to the airport remains a priority, but Nolan said he and his staff would be focused on maintaining the service they have in light of rising oil prices and airline cutbacks.
He called any notion that Palm Springs could be a hub for an airline "far-fetched."
"The last thing we want to do is to go out in the industry and start beating bushes and beating the wrong bushes and wasting their time and energy," he said.
Nolan was the unanimous choice to serve as the airport's executive director, a position created earlier this year that would oversee the director of aviation and report to Ready. Ready fired the former director of aviation, Richard Walsh, in April after announcing the new executive-director position.
Nolan said Wednesday that he was not sure if he would appoint a new director of aviation or leave the post vacant.
"I'm not going to sugarcoat it but over the last year or so or half a year there's been a little fragmentation here in the team effort," he said, adding that workers had been "venting a little bit that it's been frustrating for them during a previous administration," alluding to Walsh.
"This is about a team effort. Tom Nolan is about a team effort."
Bob Elsner, chairman of the Palm Springs Airport Committee, said the committee was worried Nolan might not accept the position because of the "culture shock of California housing" prices.
"Wichita was a great place, but I tell you, after a while when you look down at the planes and you can't see anything for 50 miles, when I can look out of my office and out of my home and see mountains, that's really special," Nolan said.
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Reach reporter Kimberly Pierceall at 951-368-9552 or at kpierceall@PE.com
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