Manhattan airport to have a new leader of the sky

(Photo Courtesy of Ron R. Fehr | Manhattan City Manager)

The thrust that makes you sit back in your seat, the feeling of a slow rise and a nice pack of crackers with a soda. In many cases, when people think of airplanes, this is what they think of.

What many people don’t think about is what it takes to get you to the plane. Behind the scenes are many dedicated, hard-working individuals who ensure that flights are scheduled, tickets are scanned, and the well-being of fliers is taken care of.

Just recently, a new face has been chosen to be the leader of the people behind the scenes at Manhattan Regional Airport.

Jesse Romo was announced as the airport’s new director late last month and will be succeeding Peter Van Kuren, outgoing airport director, today.

Romo comes to Manhattan with a self-proclaimed passion for aviation and extensive experience within the industry. Romo’s previous work includes working for the Kansas Department of Transportation as the deputy director of aviation. He was also director of airport support network for aircraft owners and pilots association in Frederick, Maryland.

Ron Fehr, Manhattan city manager, took part in the process of hiring Romo.

“Jesse (Romo) automatically became a finalist due to his experience and diversity within the aviation industry, and then when we saw his enthusiasm and passion it really put him to the top,” Fehr said.

Romo said his passion stems from always having aviation in his blood. Romo spent his youth fascinated by flying, and loved attending air shows. Shortly after high school, he earned his piloting license and began a career in aviation. His career has taken him to all parts of the industry.

“I was ready to call one airport home, because there is nothing like being at your airport,” Romo said when asked why he decided to move to Manhattan and take the position.

As Romo prepares to call Manhattan’s airport home, there is another who will soon be leaving that same familiar place.

Van Kuren has been the airport director for 10 years. He spent his career making improvements to the airport and has been at the helm of recent projects, which include phase two of the new terminal and the beginning of a larger parking area.

“Peter (Van Kuren) did an absolute phenomenal job in his time at the airport,” Fehr said.

Van Kuren stated his reason for leaving as wanting to focus more on his family. His final day working for the city of Manhattan will be May 15.

Van Kuren said he believes Romo is the right person to take the role of airport director next.

“Jesse is an exceptional choice, and I have all the confidence in the world that he will represent Manhattan and the airport very well,” Van Kuren said.

Romo has already begun to design plans and projects to enhance the airport, including strengthening the commercial side of the airport, which will help Romo to reach his overall goal of making the airport self-sufficient.