2023 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Augusto Bernal

Dec. 19, 2023
Augusto Bernal Houston Airports Director of Communications and Public Relations

Augusto Bernal's resilience and dedication were honed during his years as a television news reporter and anchor, where he became an Emmy Award-winning journalist and gained a reputation for calmly and accurately reporting breaking news.  

Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Bernal currently serves as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for Houston Airports.

His contributions to Houston Airports during the COVID-19 pandemic are particularly noteworthy. As the public information officer, he played a pivotal role in developing the Telly Award-winning FlySafeHouston campaign, educating employees and the public on safety precautions.

His crisis communication skills and ability to provide a reasonable and relatable voice in times of irregular airport operations were further demonstrated during Winter Storm Uri in 2021 and the Southwest Airlines meltdown in 2022.

As the director of communications, Bernal has improved Houston Airports' external messaging. He initiated a shift towards transparency, showcasing the airport's response to challenges such as the malfunctioning air conditioning system during a heatwave. His approach gained national attention, and Bernal was invited to brief members of ACI on his successful communication strategies.

Bernal is an active member of ACI, the Public Relations Society of America, and has attended a PWorld Crisis Communications Bootcamp. Additionally, he consistently seeks to enhance his knowledge through FAA training and emergency management drills.

Most significantly, he transformed the airport director's annual State of the Airports address, empowering his team to produce the presentation in-house, fostering creativity and collaboration. Under his leadership, Houston Airports achieved 5-Star and 4-Star Skytrax ratings in 2022 and 2023.

Bernal said his proudest professional achievement lies in navigating the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic, showcasing the airport's story and the efforts of frontline employees.

"I have faced several challenges, including the impact of the pandemic, upgrading outdated infrastructure, IROPS situations, and handling major flight disruptions,” he said. “These obstacles have inspired me to develop innovative ways to showcase the Houston Airport System and have motivated me to excel in my job."

Being part of Houston Airports is fulfilling for Bernal, especially when goals are achieved through collaboration and creativity.

“It is extremely satisfying when we achieve our goals and objectives, which can only be done with an incredible team,” he said. “Fostering collaboration and creativity within our communications department has really motivated me to succeed in telling the story of our airports and the men and women who make it all happen."

Bernal said being a communicator in the aviation industry presents distinctive challenges.

“Successfully navigating a crisis and serving the public responsibly and efficiently gives me great satisfaction, and it’s a constant motivator to be prepared and succeed in aviation,” he said.