Jeff Hamiel has been working for the Metropolitan Airports Commission since 1977 and has held the position of executive director and CEO, Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP): Airlake (in Lakeville, MN), Anoka County-Blaine, Crystal, Flying Cloud (in Eden Prairie), Lake Elmo and St. Paul Downtown since 1985. To give some comparative perspective to those measures of longevity, here is the list of individuals who occupied the FAA Administrator for those terms:
- Langhorne Bond (May 4, 1977 – Jan 20, 1981)
- J. Lynn Helms (Apr 22, 1981 – Jan 31, 1984)
- Donald D. Engen (Apr 10, 1984 – Jul 2, 1987)
- T. Allan McArtor (Jul 22, 1987 – Feb 17, 1989)
- James B. Busey IV (Jun 30, 1989 – Dec 4, 1991)
- Thomas C. Richards (Jun 27, 1992 – Jan 20, 1993)
- David R. Hinson (Aug 10, 1993 – Nov 9, 1996)
- Jane Garvey (Aug 4, 1997 – Aug 2, 2002)
- Marion Blakey (Sept 12, 2002 – Sept 13, 2007)
- Robert A. Sturgell (Sept 14, 2007 – Jan 15, 2009)
- Lynne Osmus (Jan 16, 2009 – May 31, 2009)
- Randy Babbitt (Jun 1, 2009 – Dec 6, 2011)
- Michael Huerta (Dec 7, 2011 – Present)
While each of the 13 above listed executives served at the pleasure of the President, the Executive Director of MAC serves multiple masters and those “bosses” are reputedly fickle—
- The Commission itself is composed of 25 “representatives.” The MAC’s chairman and 12 of the 14 commissioners are appointed by the Governor of Minnesota. Eight of the 12 commissioners represent districts within the metropolitan area, while the remaining four represent the interests of outstate Minnesota. In addition, one commissioner is appointed by the mayor of the City of Minneapolis and another is appointed by the mayor of the City of St. Paul to represent those cities.
- The ultimate 800 pound gorilla—Northwest, now Delta, dominates the flights into and out of MSP. Capital plans, financing and all of the daily operations are all matters which the monster tenant exerts its substantial influence.
- Every resident, who lives within the neighborhoods which are near the 6 airports which MAC controls, are self-proclaimed experts on noise control (Hamiel was MSP’s 1st manager of noise abatement and environmental affairs) and let him know what he is doing wrong, and occasionally right.
- The less than anchor tenants are frequently in Mr. Hamiel’s office. With an anchor tenant, the path of a snow plow, the cleanliness of the bathrooms and the addition of a new exciting vendor are all bases for claims of preferential treatment of NW/DL. Jeff’s job was to deal with such paranoia.
- MSP provides about 150 places for passengers to
- The FAA is another entity with which the Executive Director must deal.
- With five GA airports within his command, these very active pilots and their powerful association (AOPA) aggressively take positions on the rates and charges as well as operating conditions.
- Congress, particularly Chairman Oberstar (now deceased) took great interest in the airport.
- And many, many more interests which feel as though they should be heard.
This compendium of people with actual or perceived authority over the Executive Director could have (or thought that they could have) sought Jeff’s termination. Airports tend to engender a high level of emotion. The fact that Hamiel is retiring after 40 years of service is testament to his talents.
Somehow Jeff had enough time to be a leader of ACI-NA, ACI-International, AAAE, TRB, the FAA’s NextGen Advisory Committee and others. The Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame added him to their pantheon of stars in 2003.
Jeff’s resume is impressive and his record is so impressive that the Governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, commented on his retirement as follows:
“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…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.”
That’s high praise and establishes a daunting standard for his successor to follow. Good luck, Jeff in your retirement.