Rubin Salter, Jr. To Chair The Tucson Airport Authority

 Rubin Salter, Jr. assumed the chairmanship of the Tucson Airport Authority (TAA) at its annual meeting today. The membership elected 11 new members.

     A member of the Authority since 1984, Mr. Salter was named to the Board of Directors in 2005. A lawyer in private practice since 1964, Mr. Salter was the lead attorney in the landmark school desegregation case in Tucson, Fisher vs. Lohr. After 12 years, the case resulted in the desegregation of Tucson schools. He continues to fulfill this advocacy role by volunteering many hours to issues related to social justice.

     An active member of the community, Mr. Salter is a member of several professional organizations, including the National Bar Association, Pima County Bar Association, State Bar of Arizona, and is a lifetime member of the NAACP. Mr. Salter is admitted to practice in the highest courts in the State of Arizona, District of Arizona, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

     He is also a member of the Shriners and is a 33 Degree Mason.

      Over the years he has received many honors and awards. In 1968, and again in 1978, he was honored as Man of the Year. In 1979 he received the Urban League’s Citizen of the Year Award, and in 1981, the Arizona Education Association honored him with its Humanitarian Award. He was awarded by the State Bar of Arizona in 2001 as one of the State’s top 100 Women and Minority Lawyers. In 2004, he was named the Most Distinguished Alumni of the University of Arizona James E. Rodgers College of Law, and he recently finished his role as Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Advisory Committee.

     New members elected to the Authority included:
     Rob Draper, President, O’Rielly Ventures, Inc.; Peter Gallo, President, Monterey Water Co.; Thomas Grogan, Founder, Ventana Medical; David Hameroff, President, The Hameroff Law Firm, P.C.; Daisy Jenkins, Sr. Vice President, Human Resources, Carondelet Health Network; Lisa Lovallo, Vice President, Southern Arizona, Cox Communications, Inc.; David Lyons, EVP/Market President, National Bank of Arizona; Omar Mireles, President, HSL Asset Management; James Neihart, Owner/President, The Neihart Corporation; Ricardo Platt, Manager, Latin America Division, Quake Wrap, Inc.; and Lucinda Smedley, Principal, TREND Report/Real Estate Consulting Group, LLC.

     Continuing on the Board this year are: Thomas A. Zlaket, Chairman-Elect; Lisa Israel, Secretary; Gregory A. Pivirotto, Treasurer; Steve Fell, Assistant Secretary; Chanda S. Budhabhatti, Assistant Treasurer; Raymond Bernal, Director; and Chris Sheafe, Immediate Past Chairman. Steven Cole was named to the Board.

     Outgoing TAA Chairman, Chris Sheafe, recognized the passing of Authority members Bill Joe Varney and Dr. Melvin Dixon. Mr. Sheafe reviewed some of the highlights of the past year.

     "2010 has been a year of slight gains in air service. We are beginning to see the return of some seasonal service, including weekly nonstop service to Milwaukee on Frontier. In addition, Southwest Airlines added a second nonstop flight to both Denver and Chicago, and entered into an agreement with the Mexican Airline, Volaris, providing connecting service through Los Angeles to five cities in Mexico."

     "Later this Spring, on April 5, American Eagle will begin nonstop service to Los Angeles three times daily, greatly expanding connecting opportunities to Asia and the Pacific," he said.

     Mr. Sheafe also reported on several projects nearing completion, including the overlay of Taxiway A at Tucson International Airport (TIA) and the Noise Compatibility Program Part 150 Update, last completed in 1991. "At Ryan Airfield, the major project has been a $3.1 million rehabilitation of Runway 6L/24R that involves replacing the pavement along with installation of new lighting and signage."

     Commenting on the events of the past year, TAA President/CEO Bonnie Allin noted, "Steps taken over the last several years to position us to weather the prolonged economic downturn laid the foundation for solid financial results in 2010. While the business climate in the airline industry has improved, it remains weak and uncertain. In spite of this, and with a new Congress, rising oil prices and economic concerns looming large, we are cautiously optimistic about TAA’s prospects for 2011."

     "We are hopeful the increased landed weight projections by the airlines for TIA are an indication that the worst of the nation’s economic problems are behind us and that the aviation industry will once again see the profitable growth opportunities that exist in markets like Tucson," said Ms. Allin.

     She also observed that there are several key industry trends that are likely to impact aviation and Tucson: airline mergers and an increasing focus on major airline hubs that could negatively affect expansion into smaller markets; the volatility of oil prices, which account for 25% of an airline’s cost of doing business; security and the financial burden of increased regulations; and funding cuts due to serious budget deficits.

     "We expect to see some increase in seating capacity this year as the airlines gradually add aircraft back into the system," said Ms. Allin. "Tucson ended 2010 with year-to-date traffic up about 3% over 2009, consistent with our annual average rate of growth which over a 20-year period is 2.5%. This is a positive indicator of a return to normalcy for our business that we are optimistic is a reflection of what the community can expect as well."

     Commenting on the Authority’s air service strategy, she said it "continues to emphasize collaboration with the airlines;" with our "valued and powerful community partners, Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau, TREO, Tucson Chamber of Commerce, UA Global Advantage, and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council"; and that it is "dependent on and driven by the business community."

     The Tucson Airport Authority is a nonprofit organization composed of up to 115 residents of Pima County. Created by Arizona state charter in 1948, TAA manages the operation of Tucson International Airport and general aviation airport Ryan Airfield.