Airport leader leaving GJ for ‘attractive offer’

The executive director of Grand Junction Regional Airport is leaving for an “attractive offer” elsewhere, leaving the airport to look for the fourth time in five years for a new chief.

Kip Turner will leave at the end of May, just short of a full year as head of the state’s fourth-busiest airport and shortly before the first Grand Junction-to-Los Angeles flight he negotiated is to take off.

Turner will be available to consult with the airport as it seeks a new head, the airport said in a statement.

The airport board on Tuesday is to consider an interim executive while it searches for Turner’s replacement.

Turner left the Durango airport just less than a year ago to take over at Grand Junction, which was reeling from the inability to find an executive after the firing of Rex Tippetts in the wake of a November 2013 FBI raid on airport offices, which was prompted by fraud allegations.

No arrests were made in the case.

Two employees headed the airport for several months until the airport chose one of them, Ben Johnson, to lead the staff on a trial basis.

When Johnson sought to return to his previous position, the board hired David Fiore, then quickly fired him and sought out Turner.

During his tenure, Turner recruited new seasonal service on American Airlines to Los Angeles beginning June 3, and boosted capacity to include dual-class offerings on all American Airlines flights. He also negotiated a third daily flight on Delta to Salt Lake City, which the airport said now appears to be staged for a year-round offering.

Turner also oversaw the process that resulted in the hiring of a consultant on the process of building a new airport runway and the hiring of a separate engineering firm for the airport.

Construction of the new runway just north of the existing main runway will cost $100 million or more over the next decade at least.

The airport also will begin about $9 million worth of repair work on the terminal using grants and proceeds from a bond issue.

The Transportation Security Administration last week installed a Pre-check lane and TSA and airport officials are discussing a consolidated bag room and in-line baggage system, the airport said.

Airport board Chairman Rick Taggart said the board was disappointed to see Turner leave, “but we recognize the importance of this move for his continued career development.”

Turner said Grand Junction’s airport “has a tremendous amount of potential for continued growth and success and no doubt will be a key part of the Colorado aviation infrastructure” for the Western Slope.


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