Stockton's airport chief steps down

STOCKTON -- Stockton Metro Airport Director Barry Rondinella has announced he will step down from his post to accept a position with the Sacramento County Airport System.

Rondinella, who has headed the airport since early 2001, will become deputy director of operations for the airport system, which oversees five airports in the Sacramento area.

He will oversee 120 employees, compared with 12 at Stockton Metro, he said.

"It is a great opportunity, and I'm taking it," Rondinella said, adding that Friday will be his last day. "It just seemed like time. I have been able to accomplish a lot of the goals I set out to accomplish, and it's time for a new challenge for me and for someone else to give a shot at running this place."

Among his accomplishments, he cited extending the runway, preparing the airport for growth and re-establishing commercial service after America West backed out after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Allegiant Air began three flights per week from the airport last year and now flies seven commercial flights per week from Stockton -- five to Las Vegas and two to Phoenix.

Rondinella also prepared a deal for Aéromexico to fly between Stockton and Guadalajara and Morelia, Mexico, but the deal fell apart in March when supervisors voted 3-2 against a required $4.6 million customs facility.

"It was a huge, missed opportunity, and I'm sorry it didn't work out," Rondinella said.

The Board of Supervisors agenda for today includes a presentation recognizing Rondinella's service, and the board is scheduled to take up the issue of an interim replacement. The board will meet at 9 a.m. at 222 E. Weber Ave. in board chambers on the seventh floor.