Mayor Jackie Biskupski named Bill Wyatt, retired CEO of the port of Portland, Ore., as her pick for executive director of the Salt Lake City Department of Airports.
Wyatt, if approved by the City Council, would replace Maureen Riley, who retired after a decade overseeing Salt Lake City International Airport, and would oversee the ongoing $3 billion reconstruction of the facility and an annual $367 million operating budget.
Russell Pack has been serving for the past few months as interim director.
Wyatt retired June 30 from the Portland job, where for 17 years he was responsible for the day-to-day logistics and operations of Portland International Airport, marine shipping terminals and industrial properties. He oversaw $2 billion in construction projects and managed a $330 million budget.
“I’m excited to be part of the most consequential airport project in the country,” Wyatt said in a prepared statement. “Great institutions are made great because people are the foundation, and Salt Lake City International Airport has an exceptional reputation.”
Biskupski praised Wyatt’s track record and management style, saying they make him the right fit for the demanding job of overseeing the airport, serving more than 23 million passengers annually, and will bring valuable expertise to the future development of the city’s Northwest Quadrant.
“As the Salt Lake City International Airport undergoes the largest construction expansion in its history, it is critical that we have an individual at the table with extensive management and logistics experience,” Biskupski said. “I am confident that Bill’s expertise and knowledge will lead us well as we enter into an exciting new chapter of operations.”
The Department of Airports also oversees the South Valley Regional Airport in West Jordan and Tooele Valley Airport in Erda, Utah, together employing a workforce of more than 500.
Moreover, Biskupski said Wyatt’s knowhow and vision “will be imperative in looking to the future. … As we develop the Northwest Quadrant and examine our inland port, Bill is yet another expert at the table to help break down silos and cement Salt Lake City as the “Crossroads of the West.”
Prior to his long tenure as port of Portland CEO, Wyatt served as chief of staff to former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, as president of the Oregon Business Council, and as executive director of the Association for Portland Progress.
In addition to praise for his accomplishments as port CEO, Wyatt also drew brickbats from some environmentalists and community activists.
The Oregonian newspaper in a January story on Wyatt’s retirement announcement quoted Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Portland Chapter of the Audubon Society, describing Wyatt’s “stunning record of major failures,” calling his agency’s environmental record overall as “abysmal.”
Sallinger specifically criticized what he said was footdragging on cleanup of a Portland Harbor Superfund site, and a failed effort to create a propane export terminal at the Portland.
“We had high hopes for Bill when he came in, but he hasn’t delivered,” Sallinger told the Oregonian.
The newspaper reported Wyatt’s salary at the time as $418,000.