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Dirk Vanderleest lands at Concord Airport

Following a nationwide search, Dirk Vanderleest has been selected as Concord’s new aviation director and will begin supervising Concord Regional Airport in early September. The airport is a key economic generator for the city and county. Vanderleest brings extensive experience in aviation, management, and economic development. He retired in 2014 as the CEO of the Jackson (Mississippi) Municipal Airport Authority, responsible for the daily operations and management of both Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport (JAN) and Hawkins Field (HKS). Following his retirement, he has worked for an engineering company, focused on business development and strategic planning.

Concord Regional Airport has a strong general aviation focus that recently has been enhanced by the availability of scheduled passenger service to five destinations. There are more than 40 city employees who provide aircraft fueling, hangaring, tie-down, parking, and customer services. Other aeronautical services such as aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance, and flight instruction are offered through private operators leasing space on-site. CRA also has an on-site, staffed fire station operated by the Concord Fire Department and a control tower operated by contracted staff. The annual budget for the airport currently exceeds $9.3 million.

Vanderleest will take over from Deputy Director Susan Green who has been interim aviation director since April when Concord’s previous aviation director, Rick Cloutier, went on to become the assistant director of airports for Horry County, SC. The position is also accountable to the City Manager for the management of the business functions of airport, the negotiation and supervision of all airport contracts authorized by the City, fiscal aspects including the development and recommendation of budgets, grant applications, and related financial reporting, the implementation of capital improvement projects, the management of real estate and lease interests, and compliance with Federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations.

“It’s a real honor and privilege to have been chosen as the City of Concord’s Aviation Director. I am looking forward to joining the City’s staff leadership team and working with the airport’s professional staff,” said Vanderleest. “Though Concord Regional Airport has already grown successfully in the corporate and general aviation markets, I am excited to partner with others to take it to the next level.”

Concord has one of the busiest airports in the Carolinas. Many of these operations are related to the motorsports industry as most NASCAR related teams are located in the Charlotte region, several with facilities adjacent to or near the airport. Allegiant Airlines also operates commercial flights out of CRA.


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