Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport had almost two million passengers come through its terminals in 2021 – a 40% increase from 2020.
Such a drastic increase has several factors, including everything from remote work to more flexible school schedules. The airport’s executive team believes the demand to visit the Emerald Coast via plane is here to stay. Airports Director Tracy Stage says that with the increased demand comes needs for increased staffing at the three-airport system. The system includes Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, Destin Executive Airport and Crestview’s Bob Sikes Airport.
“However, I do need to get to a point where I can build a depth within our structure to where we’re not in a situation when we lose one individual,” Stage noted concerning staffing difficulties. “Those duties are set up on somebody else that has already set up on a number of other duties. So I need staff.”
That’s why the Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners – the elected body responsible for the airport’s operation – approved more than $600,000 for nine new positions in the airports department at the commission meeting on Tuesday June 21st.
The new employees will include an airport operations manager, airport financial services supervisor, four airport operations coordinators and three airport maintenance technicians. This will bring the budgeted staffing level to 40 positions, according to Okaloosa Airports Director Tracy Stage.
“We’re in a wonderful position to be able to afford these new positions, or additional positions because we are debt-free,” Noted Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel, who is running for re-election this year. “So thank you for that bringing this forward. I, I know you could probably use 20 new staff.”
The Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport provides almost 50 direct flights, most of them to the southeastern and midwestern United States.
While the Airport is looking to hire nine new positions – they will also be looking to fill ten currently-budget positions that sit empty.
Commissioner Nathan Boyles asked that in a year’s time Director Stage return to the board with a manning update at the airport.
Currently, only two of the jobs are posted on Okaloosa County’s Job List. The other two may be similar to the other jobs on the list currently.
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