The Airports Council International–North America (ACI-NA) Board of Directors have selected the late Port Authority of New York and New Jersey aviation director William “Bill” DeCota as the 2010 William E. Downes, Jr. Memorial Award recipient.
“A strong and authoritative voice on the issues of importance to our industry, Bill was respected by all who had the privilege of working with him,” said G. Hardy Acree, ACI-NA board chairman and director of the Sacramento County Airport System. “Whether you worked at an airport, airline or in the government, people listened when Bill spoke. No one embodies the qualities of leadership, and as such no one is more deserving of this award, than Bill DeCota.”
The Port Authority’s aviation director since 1999, DeCota died suddenly in September 2009 at the age of 51.
“He was respected by airport and airline officials not only in the United States but throughout the world,” said ACI-NA President Greg Principato. “Despite the tremendous workload in running the world’s largest aviation system, Bill always found time to assist his colleagues, not only while he served on the ACI-NA board, but anytime someone needed help.”
The Downes Award is presented by ACI-NA to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting the cause of airports and aviation throughout the local, national and worldwide communities. The award, which commemorates the former Chicago aviation director, is the highest honor given by ACI-NA.
The award will be presented on Sept. 29 in Pittsburgh during the 19th ACI-NA Annual Conference and Exhibition. DeCota’s successor, Susan Baer, will accept the award.
During his tenure, DeCota completed over $15 billion in renovations at New York’s big three airports, including the JetBlue terminal at JFK and the construction of AirTrain networks around Newark and JFK. He also successfully led the fight against a federal scheme to auction slots at airports that would have restricted airline access to Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports, raised ticket prices for passengers and limited service to small cities.
A passionate believer in the importance of the countrywide aeronautics system, he was an important contributor to the development of national aviation policies. He championed the need for airport expansion, affordably priced air service and modernization of the national air traffic control system
DeCota also served on ACI-NA’s Board of Directors in 2002 and 2003.
For more information: ACI-NA.org