Concern about Anchorage airport future raised at meeting


The DOT Aviation Advisory Board met on Wednesday. Between the agenda items discussed, such as the proposed Birchwood Airport divestment, rural airports, the governor’s proposed aviation fuel tax and the governor’s proposed airplane tax that targets private pilots, board members expressed concerns about what Gov. Bill Walker’s plans are now that he has released Airport Manager John Parrott. No replacement has been named.

Whomever the governor appoints may only have a one-year job, and then the next governor will have the ability to appoint his or her own person. Critics say the governor has injected politics back into the aviation sector and it is a destabilizing move at a time when the Alaska economy is on its heels.

The first political hiring was at the Fairbanks International Airport. The long-time manager left, and political appointee Jeff Roach was hired Nov. 6, 2015 at the request of former Walker Chief of Staff Jim Whitaker.

Now with Parrott suddenly gone, DOT Deputy Commissioner John Binder is acting airport manager.

One in 10 jobs in Anchorage is related to the Ted Stevens International Airport. It is one of the busiest cargo airports in the world. Parrott had been manager of the airport since 2008, and had been with the airport since the 1990s.

The aviation industry is nervous in Alaska. The governor has just rolled out his airplane tax and registration, and Birchwood Airport pilots are nervous about state talks of divesting the airport.

And word is the person Gov. Walker had lined up to replace Parrott has withdrawn his name.

The job pays less than half of the industry standard, according to those in the field, because it is a State of Alaska job. Finding a qualified person to run the airport is a challenge because of the uncompetitive pay and because the job may only last one year.

[Read more: Governor relieves airport manager]


  1. You nailed it. We had a good working relationship with a director who was happy to work for less than the industry standard in a place few want to move to without some financial incentive. It was a smooth running operation with the continuity that John provided. I’m at a loss as to why the governor felt the airport needed a change in direction. The fact that he’s been silent on the issue isn’t helping the residents of Alaska understand what’s going to happen. And since this position is based upon the pleasures of the governor, what competent person in their right mind would want to commit to taking it?

  2. I have worked at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport since early 1994, and I can tell you that many of us were relieved to see Mr. Parrott let go. The question in my mind is why it took Governor Walker and his administration so long to do it. Governor Walker had plenty of reasons to let Mr. Parrott go, and he had the information of why even before he took office. We’ll see if Governor Walker appoints a good person, and works to clean up what Mr. Parrott did to our airport.

    We appreciate the good work you did for us, Pete.

    • Its the “we need to go in a different direction” quote that concerns me Eric, particularly when that direction has not been identified. I miss you guys. Stay well.

  3. It is simple to understand why Parrot was separated; just look at his appointment date. I don’t know if he was personally political, but he was a Republican appointee and Democrats simply don’t tolerate the existence of those. I’m amazed he lasted this long. In the first days of the administration Bruce Bothello walked around State offices personally administering the coup d’gras, even reaching down to lowly deputy directors.

    Note to any career employees who ever contemplate taking a partially-exempt position. If it is a high-profile, controversial position make securing return rights to your merit system job a condition of accepting an appointment. If you are appointed by a Republican administration, even return rights might not save you from getting fired if the Democrats take over, but it will give you grounds to sue them. If you’re a Republican appointee without return rights and the Democrats win the Governor’s race, go to your Republican bosses immediately and get them to give you return rights.

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