Okaloosa County Airports Director Greg Donovan has submitted his resignation to accept the director’s position at Pensacola International Airport.
His final day on the job will be March 1 and he will start at Pensacola March 3.
The move is a homecoming of sorts. Donovan was assistant director at the Pensacola airport before he came to Okaloosa.
“I’m very excited about rejoining the Pensacola team,” Donovan said. “It is a wonderful thing to be asked to come back. I worked there for seven years and the team over there thought highly enough of me to ask me to come back as their leader, and that’s very gratifying.
“Going to Pensacola is a big career move for me and good for my family,” he added. “I still live in Gulf Breeze, so the opportunity to go back to Pensacola International is outstanding. It’s a little bit more than double the size in terms of emplacements as VPS (Northwest Florida Regional Airport). It’s a good career move for my part.”
The County Commission hired Donovan in January 2008 to replace the retiring Jerry Sealy.
Since then Donovan has overseen the terminal expansion, the opening of a Helen Back restaurant and the development of the USO center at Northwest Florida Regional.
Destin Airport and Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview also have seen similar successes.
Donovan also served as the acting head of the Tourist Development Council for several months last year after the TDC financing scandal erupted.
“Greg’s just been a phenomenal asset the years he’s worked here in Okaloosa County,” County Administrator Jim Curry said. “It’s not only (the) major advancements at our regional airport that are obvious, but we also have the Destin and the Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview, and all three of those facilities have grown significantly. My hat’s off to him. He’s done a really great job.”
Curry said the search for a new airports director could take four to six months. Advertisements for applicants could go out as early as next week.
Curry will appoint an interim airports director to oversee the department after Donovan leaves, but no decision on who that will be has been made yet.
Curry will retire sometime between May and October, and the search already is on for his replacement. Curry said it would make sense for the new county administrator to have a hand in choosing an airports director.
“It’s a very important position and we begin immediately the advertising,” Curry said.
Donovan said he has cultivated many strong business relationships in the past five years and hopes those will continue in his new position.
He said all the airports in Northwest Florida waste a lot of resources trying to persuade customers to fly in to or out of one airport over another when those funds could be used more constructively to bring more people to the region.
“The true approach toward regionalism is to help each other when we can,” Donovan said. “There’s always been a level of competition between Pensacola and VPS and all the other airports in the region. But I’ve got a pretty unique perspective now, having worked at both Pensacola and VPS and now back to Pensacola. My goal is to be able to unite and bring some further steps forward in diplomacy and working together. There will be opportunities, I think, where the airports could collaborate further.”
Contact Daily News Business Editor Dusty Ricketts at 850-315-4448 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DustyRnwfdn.