Departure gate: Anchorage airport director leaving for Houston airport job

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Jim Szczesniak, airport director for the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, is departing for new opportunities, the Alaska Department of Transportation said in a news release today. 

Szczesniak led the airport through the challenges of the pandemic, as well as during record levels of passenger service and cargo activity. 

“I’ve had the privilege of working with one of the best groups of aviation professionals these past four years. I will miss Team ANC, but I am confident they will continue to deliver award winning levels of service and operational excellence,” Szczesniak said.

Szczesniak has accepted a new airport leadership opportunity in Houston, Tex., the news release said. 

In the interim, Deputy Commissioner John Binder will serve as airport director until a replacement is named. Binder has substantial aviation experience and has past experience serving as interim airport director. 

Szczesniak was hired initially by former Gov. Bill Walker, who surprised the aviation community by unceremoniously dismissing John Parrrot from the position he had served in since 2008.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Something fishy here…..I’ll need at least 100 thousand dollars to form a committee to investigate this departure. This has dunleavy all over it.

  2. Walker’s firing of Parrott never got the public airing it deserved. Anybody know what the deal (or dirt?) was on that? (I just had to throw the possibility of dirt in there, since it was the disgraced/failed Mallott/Walker admin., after all.)

    • Parrott was confrontational with the public and abused his position in his quest to take Pt Woronzof Park for a second N/S Runway. As the current Master Plan shows there are other alternatives to maintaining safe operations without another runway.

    • Governor Mike Dunleavy and Chief of Staff Randy Ruaro would be making a huge mistake not to take advantage of an opportunity to have Eric Siebels take over the leadership of the Anchorage International Airport. Eric has worked there since 1994, and he has proven his dedication to the airport and the safety of the traveling public. No one knows how to get things back on track there and in DOT more than Eric.

      Jim Szczesniak never stopped or fixed the political corruption of illegal hiring of unqualified senior level managers by former airport manager John Parrott. John Binder will only continue to cover it up. It’s time to clean up the airport Governor Dunleavy. John Binder should also be let go just like former DOT Commissioner John MacKinnon so the airport can get back on track. Now is a perfect time.

  3. Governor Dunleavy, PLEEEEEESSSEEE hire Eric Siebels to head DOT. Deputy Commissioner or as head of the Anchorage International Airport would be the best appointment Dunleavy ever made and would be a long lasting legacy of achievement. I worked with Eric for about 15 years and have known him for 25. It’s not just that he picks up on everything incredibly fast, not just that he’s awesome at collecting information and organizing it into very easy to understand formats, that he’s one of the most honest, honorable people I’ve ever known, but he’s one who has “been in the trenches” and therefore knows the ins and outs of DOT operations. When I worked at the Anchorage Airport, we had an amazing record and won the worldwide Balchen Post Award for Large Airport Snow Removal Programs 5 times. It’s a complicated, intricate operation that Eric knows very well and which very much needs to be continued and passed on to new generations of operations. 

  4. Houston has a couple airports to run. bush(intercontinental), andHobby, which is also an international. Hobby is smaller and way older.. Its a hub for Southwest. bush is big for flights to the middle east. Also a hub for United. American flies to both.

    • Eric Siebels, that is the first name that comes to my mind for the job. I have worked alongside Eric Siebels, he has extensive knowledge of the Airport and great leadership skills. That man really cares about Anchorage International Airport and the safety of everyone that works or travels at the airport.

  5. Eric Siebels would also be my choice either as Commissioner or Director. He has proven time and again excellent leadership skills and a desire to truly look out for the traveling public and employees under his watch. I have had the pleasure working alongside him and know no better a man! He is an honest and professional man something we need in those positions. I urge you Mr Governor give this consideration.

  6. I wish Mr. Szczesniak well in his new career path.

    Obviously, I agree with others here about the need for Governor Dunleavy to have Eric Siebels assume a leadership role in the Department of Transportation. It is beyond time. Eric has worked for DOT for over 26 years and possesses a tremendous amount of boots on the ground experience in DOT as a highly skilled heavy equipment operator, and he has been the Senior Airfield Foreman at the Anchorage International Airport over the last ten years. Well, I guess time at grade, you would be one-year Senior Jeff! We love you…lol! Eric’s private sector experience in trucking and heavy equipment operation, along with all of his many years of traveling our highways for recreational purposes give him the ability to accurately assess who is doing their jobs properly in DOT, and who is not.

    When he called attention to the improper closing of the Silver Tip Maintenance Camp by former DOT Commissioner John MacKinnon, Eric was ignored by Senator Shelly Hughes and others. One year later, Eric was proven correct, and Governor Dunleavy and Senator Peter Micciche forced MacKinnon to reopen that camp after receiving a huge public backlash, and they went down there personally to inspect it.

    This is what is missing in DOT leadership. Someone who has the needed experience and understands what it takes to safely manage what is actually taking place at the boots on the ground level at our airports and along our highways in our State. The Anchorage Airport and the State of Alaska would be well served if Governor Dunleavy finally pulled Eric into a Leadership role before he retires. There is no better time than right now.

  7. I worked with Eric at Ted Stevens International and he was one of the best bosses I had ever had! He knows the in’s and outs of the airport and would be a great addition as Ted Stevens International airport as a commissioner. He would make it a better work place and there would be less of a turnover rate. In turn would make the airport safer. He is a great manager, good communicator, and has good common sense and a will and passion and drive to make Ted Steven international more successful and a better place to work. Governor Dunleavy please help the airport and nominate Eric Siebels as the next airport commissioner.

  8. Who is staying in the airport DOT airport apartment? It used to be former governor’s perk. Somebody knows.

  9. I must say I am proud of our Airport. Nicest major airport on the west coast followed by Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles and the black hole of Calcutta SFO. Even better on time performance with far fewer gate changes than those listed or DFW with much more challenging weather and logistics.

    • The one glaring thing that I am NOT proud about, in regards to Anchorage’s international airport, is the shameful and corrupt naming of it for a sitting politician. I adamantly REFUSE to acknowledge that name! It is long past time that its official name be returned to its obvious name, “Anchorage International Airport”. In fact, it is long past time that any and ALL public facilities be stripped of the names of ephemeral and corrupt politicians.

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