Airport Director Wants Boost In Benefits

The Erie (Pa.) Municipal Airport Authority might have to open its wallet a bit wider to keep Kelly Fredericks on board as executive director of Erie International Airport.

Fredericks said he wants to remain at Erie International, but to do so he is asking the board to give him a new five-year contract and boost his pay.

Fredericks has asked the board for a $10,000 raise, a $75,000 bonus and a 5 percent ownership share of Cottbus-Drewitz Airport -- the German airport that the authority and partner Erie Aviation Inc. are working to acquire and develop into a European air cargo hub.

Fredericks characterized the proposal as more than a wish list but less than an ultimatum. "I was asked to put together a proposal for the board, and that is my proposal," he said when asked about the requested contract benefits.

A letter from Fredericks to board solicitor Christopher Sinnott outlining his contract proposal was given to the Erie Times-News by a source on condition of anonymity.

Airport authority members are scheduled to meet in a closed-door executive session today to review Fredericks' proposal.

Fredericks said he is looking for a contract that offers more stability than his position has now, and authority member Greg Orlando said he believes there is support on the board for giving Fredericks a contract that shows more confidence.

"From my perspective I think Kelly is the man for the job. He has turned things at the airport around tremendously," said Orlando, the board treasurer.

Fredericks, 45, was hired in 1999. He has helped make Erie International one of the nation's fastest growing airports for passenger traffic, and brought the airport through the approval process needed to begin construction of a 1,900-foot-long runway extension. Fredericks and Erie Aviation Inc. consultant Dan Adamus first identified the Cottbus-Drewitz Airport potential as a cargo hub during a business trip to Europe in 2001. They developed the concept to acquire it, develop it, and link it with cargo flights to an air cargo center to be built in Erie.

Fredericks became the highest paid director of any of Erie's nine municipal authorities last July when the airport board gave him a new three-year contract and boosted his salary to $150,000 a year. Fredericks'salary was $99,926 in 2004.

When the contract was approved in July, then-authority Chairman Louis Porreco said the pay raise eliminated a list of performance-based bonuses that were becoming "a computational nightmare."

Porreco, who is now the authority's president, could not be reached for comment on the new contract request.

The three-year contract approved last July, however, would allow Fredericks or the board to terminate the agreement with six months' notice. Fredericks said that contract does not provide enough stability in the position.

Fredericks said he does not have another job offer and wants to stay in Erie. "My desire is to stay here in Erie and help the airport grow. There are so many things going on here, and I believe we have only scratched the surface of what is possible. I desire to have a long-term commitment to the airport and from the airport authority, and this (contract) would do that."

Orlando said he is confident the board and Fredericks will be able to work out a deal.

"What we are going to do is look at all the issues and talk it over as a group, and I hope we can work out an acceptable contract for him to stay here," Orlando said.

Fredericks acknowledged there is still legal research to be done to make sure his having an ownership share of Cottbus-Drewitz is legal and would not present a conflict of interest.

The airport has a 20 percent ownership stake in Cottbus-Drewitz, and Fredericks is asking for five percent, which would bring the airport's stake to 15 percent. Fredericks said he would repay the $75,000 bonus if his and the airport's ownership shares were sold during the term of his contract.

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