Ford airport leader departs Grand Rapids


Brian Ryks. Courtesy Gerald R. Ford International Airport

Gerald R. Ford International Airport will begin its search for a new executive director following the announcement today that its leader has taken a job with another airport.

Brian Ryks, who has served as executive director of Ford airport since 2012, has been hired as CEO and executive director of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport.

Ryks’ last day at Ford airport will be May 20.

The executive committee of the Metropolitan Airports Commission in Minneapolis selected Ryks as the finalist for the Twin Cities position in early March. The full commission voted and unanimously endorsed the recommendation on March 21.

“While we are saddened to lose such a tremendous leader who has done nothing short of exceptional work in his time at the Ford airport, we are excited for Brian both personally and professionally, as this is a huge step up in his career and a chance to go home to family,” said Roger Morgan, board chairman, Ford airport.

Morgan said the airport board will “move quickly” to find a replacement.

He said the search process will include the board and representatives from the business community.

Ryks has led the airport during a period of record growth, and he has spearheaded several large projects during his tenure, including welcoming Southwest to the market in 2013 and extensive facility improvements over the past couple of years.

“This is a bittersweet move for me,” said Ryks, who’s a native of Lakeville, Minnesota. “I am thrilled to return home and to the airport where I started my aviation journey, but I am heavyhearted to leave the Gerald R. Ford International Airport team that has built such tremendous growth over the last several years.”

Ford airport was recently named the top airport of its size in the region by Airports Council International.

It also welcomed a record 2.5 million passengers in 2015.

The airport is undergoing a multi-million-dollar Gateway Transformation project and a transition from county governance to regional airport authority governance, with final approval on the transition expected from the Federal Aviation Authority in July.  

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