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Tampa International Airport fires air service development director

Tampa International CEO Joe Lopano has fired the airport's air service development director in a sharply worded critique of how she handled the job.

Trudy Carson, 46, was responsible for recruiting new airlines to TIA and persuading existing carriers to fly new routes. She had worked at the airport since 1997 and earned $96,782 a year.

"I have been dissatisfied with your performance and attention to detail in several areas," Lopano wrote in a letter Friday. He cited Carson's strategy for air service development and dealings with JetBlue Airways and German carrier Condor Airlines.

Some critics of the airport's meager roster of nonstop international and Caribbean flights questioned her effectiveness. Carson helped persuade AirTran Airways and JetBlue Airways to start nonstops to San Juan, Puerto Rico, this spring. She did not return a call for comment Monday.

Meanwhile, Lopano recently hired a former subordinate from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport for the newly created job of marketing vice president.

Christopher Minner oversees airline recruiting as an assistant vice president at Dallas-Fort Worth. That will be among his responsibilities at TIA. Minner will earn $170,000 a year. He starts work March 31.

Two more high-level executives are leaving Tampa International. Construction manager John Allen, 52, resigned effective March 31. Allen had conflicts with his new boss under Lopano's reorganization of airport management, said a memo in his personnel file from Al Illustrato, TIA's vice president of facilities and customer service.

A contractor complained to Illustrato he was "getting in the middle of something" between Allen and his supervisor. Allen began work at the airport in 1999 and became construction manager in 2004. He earns $114,269.

Earlier this month, human resources director Don Welch, 64, wrote Lopano that he will resign effective April 1. Welch, who earns $163,950, is dropping out of a state retirement plan that allows employees to accrue retirement payment during their final five years of work.

Steve Huettel can be reached at or (813) 226-3484.

Tampa International Airport fires air service development director 03/21/11 [Last modified: Monday, March 21, 2011 9:17pm]
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