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"New airport manager is no stranger to the Keys"



Sunday, March 31, 2013

New airport manager is no stranger to the Keys
By RYAN McCARTHY
The Keynoter.com


New Yorker Donald DeGraw says he's found his dream job after more than 20
years in the aviation management field.

The aeronautical services manager at John F. Kennedy International Airport
was announced Wednesday as Monroe County's assistant director of airports
and manager of Florida Keys Marathon Airport. He's the potential successor
to long-time airports Director Peter Horton, who's set to retire in January
2015.

DeGraw was on the job for just a year at JFK, but said he and his wife had
long hoped to move to the Keys. Previous positions he's held include
management jobs at the airport in Burlington, Vt., Rutland/Southern Vermont
Regional Airport, Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport in upstate New York and
Yellowstone Airport in Montana. 

"We already had our sights set on the Florida Keys for years, but there was
no real turnover here. When this came up, we jumped on it," he said. "I've
been doing this 20 years now and my plan is to finish out my career in the
Keys and retire there."

DeGraw received his degree in aeronautical studies/management from
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach in 1990. He said he's
familiar with the Keys, having flown to and vacationed here many times over
the years.

"Once you're down there, you don't want to go home," he said.

DeGraw will go from overseeing a staff of 50 at one of the world's busiest
airports to spending the majority of his time at Florida Keys Marathon
Airport, a general aviation airfield.

"Small but busy," DeGraw said of the Middle Keys airfield. "I know Peter has
done well running it and I want to learn all I can from him."

DeGraw beat out dozens of applicants and a short list of four finalists that
included outgoing Naval Air Station Key West Commander Patrick Lefere, who's
retiring in the summer; United Way of the Florida Keys President Margaret
Smith; and DeLand Municipal Airport Manager Nickolis Landgraff.

"Although all of our finalists were extremely well qualified and any one of
the four could have performed the duties in an exceptional manner, we are
fortunate to have Don DeGraw joining the Monroe County airports team,"
Horton said in a prepared statement.

DeGraw is expected to begin work on June 3 and will earn $95,000 per year.
He said he's been kicking ideas around and is already well aware of the
million-dollar question in Marathon: Can the city support commercial air
service?

"There's three components to quality air service: Reliability, good
connections and a good ticket price," he said. "If we can find a carrier
that provides those components, we could find an airline to serve the
community."

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