Five Queens airports and airlines influencers
you need to know
When a politician takes credit for a major airport overhaul, a new rail tunnel or an expansive housing project, there’s a team of developers and construction companies who actually built it. When elected officials praise the creation of good jobs, there are business leaders and entrepreneurs generating the new opportunities – and a strong union movement that helps keep wages competitive. When government bureaucrats tout the thriving tourism industry, there’s a complex transportation network that gets them here – and plenty of attractions to draw in tourists.
The individuals carrying out these behind-the-scenes tasks are not elected, but often they are just as powerful as the officials that voters put into office. In this list, we put the spotlight on these players in airports and airlines – The Influentials.
Return to full list of the 25 Queens influencers.
President and CEO, JetBlue
At a time when airlines have been scrutinized for overbooking flights and involuntarily bumping passengers, JetBlue’s emphasis on passenger satisfaction looks prescient. Since Robin Hayes took over as president of JetBlue in 2014 and CEO in 2015, he has piloted the Queens-based airline on that same course.
A veteran of British Airways, Hayes in 2016 launched commercial service between New York and Cuba, the first American commercial airline to fly to Havana in more than 50 years. The new flight came after he accompanied Gov. Andrew Cuomo on a 2015 trade mission to the island nation. Hayes is on the Partnership for New York City board of directors, a pro-business group. His company was also recently named as one of the best places to work by Forbes.
Vice President of New York Sales, Delta
Chuck Imhof has come a long way from his beginning as a regional sales manager for a Minneapolis tour bus company. Today, he is vice president for New York sales for Delta, which bills itself as the largest airline in New York.
After more than two decades at American Airlines, Imhof joined Delta in 2009, which has a major presence at Kennedy Airport and LaGuardia Airport.
While airlines are focused on maximizing profits, Imhof has touted Delta’s emphasis on community engagement and investment in philanthropic causes.
Imhof has been involved in a variety of causes; he serves on the Queens Chamber of Commerce board and previously served on boards of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation and Citymeals on Wheels.
Chairman, President and CEO, FlightSafety International
Bruce Whitman is the top dog at FlightSafety International, rising to become the company’s CEO in 2003 decades after he started at the company in 1961.
The company is one of the largest in Queens, providing training to pilots, airplane maintenance workers and other employees at LaGuardia Airport, Kennedy Airport and across the globe. FlightSafety International provides 1.3 million hours of training each year and employs around 5,000 people in Queens.
Whitman, an Air Force veteran, is also chairman emeritus on the executive committee of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, which works to educate the public about the Medal of Honor, and is a board member emeritus of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
General Manager, John F. Kennedy International Airport
To put it simply, Michael Moran runs one of the largest and busiest airports in the U.S. He took over in 2014 as general manager of John F. Kennedy International Airport, which employs about 37,000 people and generates an estimated $37.3 billion in economic activity in the region.
In nearly 30 years at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Moran has also worked at Newark International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, the region’s other two major airports. He was instrumental in planning the redevelopment of LaGuardia’s 50-year-old Central Terminal. He may be working with Gov. Andrew Cuomo again on an overhaul of JFK’s terminals, which was part of a January announcement by the governor.
CEO, LaGuardia Gateway Partners
Stewart Steeves is spearheading the $4 billion Central Terminal redevelopment at LaGuardia Airport, a major priority for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Construction is now underway, with different phases expected to open in 2018, 2020 and 2021.
Steeves is the CEO of LaGuardia Gateway Partners, a consortium of six companies charged with carrying out the redevelopment, which makes it one of the country’s largest public-private partnerships. Steeves previously served as the chief financial officer of Vantage Airport Group, an airport management company that is a member of LaGuardia Gateway Partners and touts its success in converting publicly managed airports to privately managed ones. In his career at Vantage, Steeves oversaw airports in Canada and the Bahamas. He is also a licensed pilot.