MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, MINN. – The executive director of the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), Jeff Hamiel, has announced that he will retire effective May 16, 2016.
As the MAC’s executive director and CEO, Hamiel oversees day-to-day operations of one of the nation’s largest airport systems, including Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP) and six general aviation airports in the Twin Cities metropolitan area: Airlake (in Lakeville), Anoka County-Blaine, Crystal, Flying Cloud (in Eden Prairie), Lake Elmo and St. Paul Downtown.
“Through nearly 40 years of service to the Metropolitan Airports Commission, Jeff Hamiel has made an indelible impact on air travel in Minnesota and has provided a strong voice for airports nationally,” said MAC Chairman Dan Boivin. “Under his leadership Minneapolis-St. Paul International has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s best managed airports. The number of passengers served annually has more than quadrupled during Jeff’s tenure. He has provided a steady hand to keep air service strong in Minnesota not only in good times, but also when airlines one after another were filing for bankruptcy, merging and discontinuing hub operations at other airports.”
A U.S. Air Force pilot, Hamiel joined the Metropolitan Airports Commission on May 16, 1977 as the organization’s first noise program manager. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming assistant operations director in 1980 and director of operations in 1983. He served as deputy executive director in 1984 before becoming MAC’s executive director and CEO in 1985. At the same time, he continued to serve in the U.S. Air Force Reserve as its chief pilot and commander of the 96th Airlift Squadron until he retired from military duty in 1998.
In his years at MAC, Hamiel steered the organization through numerous critical events:
• Deregulation of the airline industry in 1978.
• Provision of more than $300 million in financing to Northwest Airlines in 1992, helping the carrier avoid bankruptcy.
• A dual-track planning process that ultimately led to the legislature’s 1996 decision to expand MSP at its existing site, instead of replacing it with a new airport southwest of Hastings, Minnesota.
• The resulting $3 billion MSP 2010: Building a Better Airport expansion program, which transformed virtually every aspect of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, including: a new Terminal 2-Humphrey; new Terminal 1-Lindbergh concourses A and B and additional gates on Concourse C; a new fourth runway, 17/35; new parking, transit and auto rental facilities; new cargo facilities; improved aircraft de-icing and storm water retention facilities; new roadways; installation of light rail tunnels and stations; and replacement of hundreds of acres of 1960s-era airfield pavement.
• Development of the most extensive airport noise mitigation program in the United States, through which nearly 15,000 homes around MSP have been insulated, including thousands of homes well beyond the federal standard for mitigation.
• Implementation of historically new aviation security measures following the 9-11 terrorist attacks on America.
• Airline negotiations aimed at maintaining air service and related jobs following the bankruptcy filing of hub carrier Northwest Airlines in 2005, and the acquisition of Northwest by Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines in 2008.
More than 35 million people traveled through MSP in 2014 compared to 8.4 million passengers in 1977, when Hamiel joined MAC. The number of flights also has increased, from 263,709 in 1977 to 412,695 in 2014. MSP is the 16th busiest airport in the United States in terms of passenger traffic and the 13th busiest for aircraft operations. A 2012 economic impact study, conducted by InterVISTAS Consulting LLC, estimates that MSP International Airport generates more than $10 billion in annual economic activity for the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and supports more than 76,000 area jobs.
In addition to his role at MAC, Hamiel has served as a board member of Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), and as that organization’s chairman in 2001. In addition, he has chaired ACI-NA’s International Affairs Committee and been a member of the organization’s Governmental Affairs and Environmental committees. Hamiel also served for several years as a board member and special advisor to the global Airports Council International, then based in Geneva, Switzerland. He is also a certified member and former competition committee co-chair of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).
Hamiel also served for eight years as vice chair of the Airport Cooperative Research Program under the auspices of the Transportation Research Board, a division of the National Academies of Science in Washington, D.C. Most recently, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood appointed him as the airport representative to the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen Advisory Committee.
Hamiel has served on the Executive Committee of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies since 2001, and as its chairman since 2011. He also served from 2009 to 2013 as a member of the Board of Trustees for Hamline University. Hamiel was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 2003.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission has retained an executive recruiting firm, Spencer Stuart, to conduct a national search for Hamiel’s replacement.