Dayton brings airport director back

The city of Dayton has found its new airport director — its previous one.

After abruptly leaving a barely three-month job as director of a Milwaukee-area airport, Terry Slaybaugh will soon be back in charge of Dayton International Airport, the city of Dayton said Tuesday.

“I am thrilled to welcome Terry back to the city team,” Dayton City Manager Warren Price said in a statement. “Under his leadership, the Dayton airport saw significant changes with the presence of PSA Airlines and major large scale renovations to airport infrastructure.”

“The decision to discontinue my employment with Milwaukee County was tough,” Slaybaugh said in Dayton’s statement. “However, my family is my first priority and relocation has posed significant challenges. I am grateful that the city (Dayton) is willing to welcome me back to DAY.”

Slaybaugh is expected to be back on the job in Dayton by or shortly after May 18, the city said. A message seeking comment was left for Slaybaugh on his cell phone Tuesday.

Slaybaugh led the Dayton airport from March 2011 to January 2015. He left for Milwaukee after applying for the city manager’s job that went to Price.

“I was sorry to see him go when he made the decision to leave Dayton,” Price said in an interview. When Slaybaugh acknowledged to Price that the move was proving harder to his family than he had expected, they both saw an opportunity for him to return, he said.

“He had an interest in returning,” Price said. “We were still in process — we had not begun interviews (of prospective replacement airport directors).”

Slaybaugh, 59, was announced as the new airport director on Jan. 26, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The airport director’s salary there is $168,000, it said.

Slaybaugh returns to the same salary he left in Dayton, just over $129,000, Price said. There is no salary increase, he said.

Dayton International has been growing stronger in terms of employment and infrastructure, but is challenged with declining passenger traffic. For 19 months in a row, passenger traffic has declined in Dayton.

In 2014, passenger traffic at the Dayton airport declined by 9 percent. However, airport revenue was about $33.4 million, up from about $30.4 million in 2013, the city has said.

A lot of that decline is due to market forces — market forces beyond the city’s control, Price said.

“What we can do, to the degree we possibly can, is make Dayton International the best facility we can make it possibly make it,” the city manager said.

The Dayton airport has long touted relatively shorter waiting times and lines. One recent marketing mantra was: “Easy to and through.”

Even as passenger traffic has declined, Dayton-based PSA Airlines has added jobs and planes to its fleet.

PSA, the only commercial airline based in Ohio, will put three new planes into service monthly into 2016, PSA President Dion Flannery said in January.

The carrier added 1,100 new employees last year and employs about 800 in the Dayton area. It is hiring 60 flight attendants and pilots each month.

Slaybaugh was hired in Milwaukee County from more than 70 applicants, a Milwaukee newspaper reported. Of those, about a dozen candidates were interviewed.

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