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New Airport Authority CEO named

THUNDER BAY -- After seven months, its official – Ed Schmidtke can remove the interim label from his title as president and CEO of the Thunder Bay International Airports Authority.
Ed Schmidtke was named president and CEO of the Thunder Bay International Airports Authority on Thursday, after serving in the role for seven months. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY -- After seven months, its official – Ed Schmidtke can remove the interim label from his title as president and CEO of the Thunder Bay International Airports Authority.

Ian McCormack, chairman of the TBIAA’s board of directors, said Schmidtke’s performance in an interim capacity helped put the longtime employee over the top as the job search progressed.

“Ed came to the Thunder Bay International Airports Authority some time ago and is well regarded in the industry and well-regarded by the team in the community here and certainly has met the expectations of the board of directors,” McCormack said.

He’ll have plenty of challenges to deal with, the industry facing plenty of changes in its own rights.

Running an airport can be difficult at time, with airlines changing business models and routes on a regular basis.

In addition to ensuring the airport is safe, Schmidtke will also be tasked with making it cost-effective and investing in the airport’s infrastructure.

“Those challenges are actually here today and they’re going to continue on into the future. But he’s well-kidded out to meet those challenges,” McCormack said.

Schmidtke, who took over for the departed Scott McFadden, said he’s looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s very exciting. I’ve been here since 1989, served in many capacities, enjoyed every role and to now be able to spend some time leading us into the future, that’s a very exciting opportunity.”

Airport safety is the No. 1 priority, he added.

“We always consider it an important challenge to find ways of keeping the airport safer and finding new opportunities to make this airport as safe as we possibly can,” Schmidtke said. “So we’re going to invest more money on training on that and we’re going to spend more time and invest in new technologies to help with that.”

Maintaining passenger volumes is also an issue he plans to address.

Noting the airport now has 15 flights daily into the Greater Toronto Area, Schmidtke said it will likely be niche markets, such as the mining industry, that will keep passenger numbers at or near recent record highs.

The slight projected loss in 2015 is due mainly to the loss of United Airline’s daily flight to Chicago. It’s unlikely another airline will step in any time soon to fill that gap, which is disappointing, Schmidtke said.

Thunder Bay was not alone. United also pulled out of six other Canadian markets.

“We’ll keep in touch,” he said. “But is it imminent? No. There’s no imminent solution.”

Another goal is to convince Canadian airlines to add more flights westward out of Thunder Bay. Schmidtke said they’ve had preliminary talks with WestJet and plan to continue in their attempt to move things forward.

He also plans to target Northern Minnesotans, who can often fly to certain destinations, including Europe, far more cheaply from Thunder Bay than Duluth.

“There’s volatility, but there’s also vitality. It’s not growing anytime soon, but it’s not plummeting,” he said.”

Passenger volumes were down about 7,800 in 2014, compared to 2013.


Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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