Councillors 'fully support' mayor running Windsor airport

Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis is now spending part of his time running the city's airport. Francis said he will replace airport manager Federica Nazzani, who left several months ago.

Eddie Francis also announced Wednesday that Ottawa is giving airport more than $800K for safety improvement

Francis is already chair of the Windsor Police Board, Windsor Utilities Commission and Enwin Energy. (CBC News)

Several city councillors approve of Mayor Eddie Francis being appointed the interim CEO and manager of Windsor International Airport.

Francis said Wednesday there will be no replacement for airport manager Federica Nazzani, who left several months ago.

The mayor said a management team, led by himself, is in place to oversee daily operations.

"Eddie knows the file better than anyone else," Coun. Ron Jones. "Federica has got the place to a point where it is running well."

Francis will spend "a couple mornings a week" at the airport, meeting with the executive team, providing instructions and directions.

"Our 19, 20 employees continue to work every single day. I continue to be serving as an acting president [and] acting CEO role. The board has decided to continue that type of relationship, and it's worked out well," Francis said. "I'm available on a daily basis, but things are proceeding extremely well."

According to Coun. Drew Dilkens the mayor receives no additional compensation for the position.

"The board appointed the mayor as interim CEO.  It makes complete sense and I fully support the decision," Dilkens said.

Francis is already chair of the Windsor International Airport board, Windsor Police Board, Windsor-Detroit Tunnel Corporation board and Enwin Energy.

"If Eddie has taken on more of a hands-on role, then good for him.  I have no concerns," Coun. Percy Hatfield said. "He wouldn’t do it unless he felt he could balance his workload with his family life."

Coun. Alan Halberstadt said he doesn't have a problem with Francis managing the airport as long as the appointment is interim.

Halberstadt said if Francis remains airport manager for more than six months, "he should step down as mayor and apply for the job."

"The public, and myself, will judge this situation based on the performance of the airport operations and the agencies boards he's tasked with being chair of," Coun. Al Maghnieh said. "At this point we'll wait and see."

Francis is also pleased Porter Airlines has plans to expand its fleet with larger planes.

Porter will also add a new daily flight from Windsor to Toronto.

Safety upgrades

Francis also announced Wednesday that Ottawa  is giving Windsor International Airport more than $800,000 for three safety improvement projects.

Windsor International Airport wants to keep its status as one of the safest airports in the country.

One of them is electronic runway condition reporting equipment.

"The equipment that we're buying is going to be much more {information technology] integrated," said Phil Roberts, the airport's director of operations.

Roberts said staff will now be able to send runway friction data and condition reporting more rapidly to flight planners and air traffic control.

"In some cases now, especially with the new equipment, directly to the cockpit," Roberts said.

The airport will also buy a new firefighting truck and a new snowplow blade.