Farewell to airport CEO

James Fazio, whose official title is Chief Executive Officer, Aruba Airport Authority N.V., Aeropuerto Internacional Reina Beatrix, will be leaving us effective Sept 1st, after five years here.

He will be taking on a new role with Royal Schiphol Group’s International Team, based in New York, but is hoping to be invited back for the opening of Gateway 2030, the Expansion Project of Aruba Airport Authority N.V., phase 1, mid 2022.

He will also be involved with Sint Maarten, Princess Juliana International Airport, which suffered extensive damage when Hurricane Irma struck the island in September, 2017, with winds of a hundred and eighty-two miles per hour, which ripped off sections of the roof of the then new terminal.

I talked to him recently about his time in Aruba.

He loved his job here, he said, because it was an opportunity to make a difference and he is leaving the airport in a better shape than he found it, with the exciting Gateway 2030 project, well underway.

Having worked with three different three minister of tourism Fazio reports they all allowed him space and respected the very involved and complex systems in place at the airport. And because he kept them in the loop, well informed and updated, there have never been any issues, in five years.

Fazio as you can see is a diplomat. But the proof is in the pudding, he survived without any serious glitches, that I recall, and improved the airport’s revenue considerably from 90 million a year to 140, with aeronautical and non-aeronautical charges, and the airport departure tax, a steady flow of k’ching.

OK, money talks, albeit with a limited vocabulary.

Fazio is grateful to his team, for rising to the occasion and improving the airport’s performance, making it more efficient and above all passenger friendly.

The most dramatic improvement will come with the new construction. Gateway 2030, a 500 million expansion of the airport is being financed by the Aruba Bank, CMB, APFA, RBC, and some pension funds. The airport is in good financial shape and if during construction it will tighten its own belt, watch the budget and maintain efficiency, debt will be paid off in 15 years and Aruba will gain a world class gateway, including three additional contact gates, two extra bus gates, a broader selection of retail, food and beverage outlets, and much more.

Why is US customs so sparse, I asked, were all agents whisked off to Mexico?
Fazio gave me a diplomatic answer about an existing personnel supplying treaty, and about finding balance in collaboration, stressing the relationships are very good, and mostly assuming the blame because the airport in its present footprint outgrew its own efficiency, and thus on busy days, it cannot function optimally, but the team get 100% for pushing.         

Ok, back to NY to grandchildren, the fun part, and commute and weather…..thank you for all you’ve done for One Happy Island.

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August 26, 2019
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