After less than a year as the top executive of the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport, Michael Isaacs applied to be the director of a smaller airport in another Western state.
Isaacs was one of two finalists to be director at Yellowstone Regional Airport, then withdrew from the search, according to a December story in the Cody Enterprise, a Cody, Wyo., newspaper.
Isaacs, director of the Lewiston airport, interviewed for the position in Cody and spoke to the public at a December event at the Yellowstone Regional Airport, according to the Cody Enterprise.
“Although Lewiston is a larger airport with more flights and destinations, Isaacs said he was considering Cody for a change of scenery and culture,” the Cody Enterprise reported.
On Wednesday, Isaacs said via email he wasn’t currently looking at other jobs.
“The airport board commissioners know I am 100 percent committed to (Lewiston),” Isaacs said. “I am encouraged because conditions at (Lewiston) have improved slightly in the past couple months. I look forward to continuing to resolve problems and restoring air service and public trust in (Lewiston).”
Isaacs started his job in Lewiston in February after being the manager of the airport in Pierre, S.D.
Isaacs’ decision to seek a new job was disappointing, but not surprising, said Airport Authority Board Chairman Gary Peters in an email.
Isaacs took the job less than two years after Lewiston lost Alaska Airlines’ subsidiary, Horizon Air, that went to Boise and Seattle and was notified by the Federal Aviation Administration it had a host of deficiencies, which were remedied ahead of his arrival.
He is one of several people who have held the position since Robin Turner retired from the post in 2014.
Isaacs has accomplished a lot despite starting the job just weeks before the coronavirus dramatically reduced air travel, Peters said.
“(Isaacs) has been very instrumental in restoring all of our (FAA) and (Transportation Security Administration) relationships as well as our air service development work, of which we hope to deliver on that promise of restoring service for the community very soon,” Peters said.
Isaacs also said the airport has made progress in recents months, listing tasks completed since his arrival.
It reached a settlement with Stout Flying Service where neither side admitted doing anything wrong.
That compromise followed a decision by the board, which was widely debated in the community, to end Stout’s lease in July.
The board’s choice to end the lease came after Stout was served a notice of default in May for failing to carry lease-required liability and property damage insurance.
The airport has finished the reconstruction of its secondary runway, worked on the design of taxiway improvements and moved forward with a remodel of the airport terminal.
His desire to leave, Isaacs said, involved a lack of support from the city of Lewiston, which, along with Nez Perce County, owns the airport and is responsible for appointing two of five board members, who supervise the airport director.
“One-sided, negative” Lewiston Tribune stories were another factor in seeking the post in Cody, Isaacs said.
“While the airport is doing positive things, (the Lewiston Tribune) is more concerned about the opinions of disgruntled former employees,” Isaacs said. “It’s hard to garner public support in light of all this.”
One of the stories Isaacs took issue with covered, among other things, an FAA investigation involving allegations of potential security issues and use of airport resources for functions not related to aviation at the Lewiston airport.
The FAA began its look at those issues after receiving what it described as an “informal complaint” from Turner.
Isaacs submitted a response to the FAA in November where he maintained the airport had followed all of the rules, including those of the FAA and the TSA.
The FAA, Isaacs said Wednesday, has not been in contact with him about its investigation since he sent the agency his response.
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