Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Airport manager's contributions recognized

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HEBRON — As head of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, Bob Holscher doesn't care for surprises.

        “You never know what's going to come up next with this job,” Mr. Holscher said Tuesday from his second- floor office in the airport's Terminal 1 building.

        But during Monday night's meeting of the Kenton County Airport Board, Mr. Holscher had some unexpected news he thoroughly enjoyed.

        The board and staff of the airport honored Mr. Holscher, 60, who is celebrating his 25th year as the airport's director of aviation.

        “It was a surprise, no doubt about it,” Mr. Holscher said with a chuckle. “I don't know if "honored' is the right word. I've just been here a long time, that's all.

        “I'm proud of all that's happened out here, but as I said (Monday) night, they gave me all the accolades but I asked all of our staff to stand up,” he said. “They are an excellent staff of people, and my philosophy has been to allow them to do their jobs, provide a little guidance if they need it, and try to provide a good working environment. That's what we've been able to do and that's why it all works so well out here.”

        Board members, who col lectively serve as Mr. Holscher's boss, said his management style is one of the reasons for his personal success in the job as well as the success of the airport.

        “Bob has done a superb job,” said board member Richard Crist of Boone County. “I'm usually pretty critical of people, but Bob has a well-trained, experienced staff. He gives them a lot of latitude and supports them. That's the kind of management you want to have in place, and that's what he's done.”

        A native of Cincinnati's west side, Mr. Holscher — who lives in a house on airport property — began working as a firefighter at the airport in 1961.

        He moved through the ranks as fire chief and director of operations before being named director of aviation in 1975. The position has oversight on the day-to-day management of the airport as well as long-term planning.

        The developments during Mr. Holscher's tenure as director of aviation include:

        • Growth in passengers from 2.5 million to 22 million a year.

        • Growth in number of annual flights from 149,00 to 476,000.

        • Tripling of the size of the airport's facilities.

        • Development of hubs by the airport's two dominant airlines, Delta Air Lines and Comair. The hubs increased direct as well as connecting flights and caused passenger counts to explode.

        • Introduction and growth in number of international flights.

        • Passenger surveys that have ranked the airport No. 1 in the country and No. 2 in the world in passenger service.

        An avid traveler and impeccable dresser who rarely allows the pressures of the job to get to him, Mr. Holscher's even-handed demeanor has allowed him to thrive in his job.

        “You can't say enough about the job he has done,” said board member Arlyn Easton of Boone County, president of Meyer Tool Inc. “It's unusual to have a director stay as long as Bob has, but that just shows how well he knows and can handle his job. He is recognized as one of the leaders in airport management.”

        Among the gifts and citations Mr. Holscher received Monday were proclamations from Gov. Paul Patton and Kenton County Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd; announcement of a road on airport property that will be named for him; and a portrait painted by Keith Dykes, an artist, designer and photographer in the airport's Communications Department.

        “He has contributed to (the airport) becoming a major force, not only for the region, but also for the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky, helping to place this state on the world economic map,” Mr. Patton wrote in a proclamation to Mr. Holscher.

        Mr. Holscher said his future challenges include implementing the airport's $1 billion master plan; winning federal approval for development of a new north/south runway designed to help ease flight delays; and trying to ease airline noise for residents and businesses in Kentucky and Southwest Ohio.

        “We've spent over $100 million in recent years to try and mitigate the noise,” Mr. Holscher said, “and it continues to be a concern for our neighbors and the airport as well.

        “We'll continue to put forth that monetary effort and do what we can do from a planning perspective to lessen the impact” of noise, he said.


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