Culver City Edition Local News West Edition

Head of Oakland Airport nominated for LAX post

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners voted June 4 in support of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination of Oakland International Airport Director Deborah Ale Flint to take over the city agency that operates LAX, LA/Ontario International Airport and Van Nuys Airport.

Airport Commission President Sean Burton called Ale Flint a “rising star” and said she is “the absolute right person to build on what has been accomplished by [Los Angeles World Airports] and to lead this organization to the next level of world-class airports with sustained excellence.”

Ale Flint’s appointment now goes to the City Council for approval.

Garcetti announced June 3 he had selected Ale Flint to become the next executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, replacing Gina Marie Lindsey, who is stepping down later this month after eight years overseeing the city’s Airport Department and the ongoing $8.5 billion modernization of Los Angeles International Airport.

Ale Flint has been responsible for the operation, management and business development of Oakland International, which handled 10.3 million passengers last year and has led various airport projects, including a public transit rail connection to Oakland International.

Garcetti called Ale Flint, who has a bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University, “the right aviation executive to lead the changes we are making, overhauling nearly every terminal and bringing rail to LAX, growing passenger activity at LA/Ontario Airport and adding new customs service at Van Nuys Airport.”

Ale Flint responded by saying: “I am honored by the opportunity to join Mayor Garcetti’s administration. … I am looking forward to working with him, the commissioners, the entire LAWA team and our neighbors to shape the future of air transportation for Los Angeles and the greater region.”

If confirmed, Ale Flint will join Los Angeles World Airports amid an $8.5 billion modernization of LAX, now the second-busiest airport in the nation.

She also will have to deal with struggling LA/Ontario International Airport, which has lost more than 40 percent of its passengers since 2007. The city of Ontario is trying to wrest control of the facility from Los Angeles, which acquired the airport from that city in 1985.

The selection of Ale Flint was praised by Ontario Mayor Pro Tem Alan D. Wapner, who is also president of the Ontario International Airport Authority, a group pushing for Los Angeles to give up ownership of the airport.

“Coming from a Bay Area airport that successfully operates within the San Francisco regional airport system, we are confident [Ale Flint] understands that local control is the only way to avoid an inherent conflict of interest between a primary international gateway and a secondary airport,” Wapner said.

Wapner said he hopes to meet with Ale Flint and Garcetti “soon to transfer [Ontario] to local control.”

“Upon the transfer of ONT to the Ontario International Airport Authority, Ms. Ale Flint can focus her full attention on the two airports within the city of Los Angeles — LAX and Van Nuys Airport,” he said.

Union officials representing workers at Los Angeles International Airport said Ale Flint, if confirmed, would need to address workplace safety issues.

Ale Flint has “continuing challenges” ahead of her, including the airport’s “troubled history with regards to health and safety, emergency response and ongoing labor disputes over benefits and other standards,” said
David Huerta, president of the SEIU United Service Workers West.

Menzies Aviation, an airline contractor at LAX, was fined $77,250 by Cal-OSHA last year for three accident-related workplace safety violations found during an investigation prompted by the Feb. 21, 2014, death of a 51-year-old baggage cart tug driver who fell off the vehicle.

SEIU-USWW has been working with Menzies employees since 2012.