Supervisors should take time to find the right person for airport board

Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport gives visitors quite the good impression.
Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport gives visitors quite the good impression. Sun Herald File

The Harrison County Board of Supervisors is in no rush to fill a vacancy on the Gulfport-Biloxi Airport Authority board.

Supervisors President Kent Jones said it won’t make a decision until at least the Aug. 14 meeting out of deference to the family of Travis Lott Jr., who served on the authority from 1994 until he died July 11.

We respect that decision.

We hope the supervisors are taking the extra time to come up with an exceptional person for this important role. The Airport Authority is one of those boards that is rarely in the limelight — until something goes haywire. It has been under that radar for years. We’d like to think that is because the authority and the management team it assembled have been properly managing the airport.

From outward appearances, that certainly seems to be the case. The airport has never looked better. Allegiant Air flights to Orlando begin later this month. Sun Country flights to Minneapolis will resume at about the same time.

Earlier this year, it became the first Mississippi airport to offer Global Entry, an expedited security clearance system. Millions of dollars in improvements are on the way. More than 600,000 people pass through its terminal each year. For many, the airport is the first impression they have of the Mississippi Coast. And it makes a fine first impression.

Another perk: The airport’s budget comes from rents and fees paid by the people who use it.

So getting the right person on that three-person board should be a priority. Someone with experience in the aviation industry. Someone with a business and tourism background.

Just such a person should be right here on the Coast. Tourism is huge here. And aviation plays a big role in the economy as well.

Supervisors should base their decision on those qualifications alone.

The authority in years past drew criticism for its liberal travel budget and its frequently flying members. Those days, it seems, are in the past.

A solid appointment to the authority will keep it that way.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.