When Long Beach Airport Director Jess L. Romo looks back at his career at LGB he said his goal is to be able to say he helped maintain its boutique feel while also growing revenue that will keep it operating well into the future.
For now though, the 55-year-old is just getting started, having taken the lead at Long Beach Airport in September. He said he’s still adjusting, and is in the process of moving with his wife from their home in Claremont to Long Beach, and he’s enjoying the new job so far.
“The staff here has been so welcoming, especially to someone coming in from the outside,” Romo said. “It’s really a small, intimate group here of about 100 staff members who all wear multiple hats and are open to engagement and collaboration.”
Coming from a larger-scale operation, Romo most recently served as interim deputy executive director for Los Angeles World Airports, overseeing operations and emergency management at Los Angeles International Airport.
Romo has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Irvine, and a master’s in industrial psychology from California State University, Los Angeles. He is an accredited airport executive of the American Association of Airport Executives and a recipient of the 2015 Award for Airport Executive Partnership from the National Air Transportation Association.
Although Romo said it was a difficult choice to leave his 28-year career with the city of Los Angeles, the opportunity to serve as the director of an airport in Southern California was one he couldn’t pass up.
Romo’s predecessor, Bryant Francis, left in February for a post at Oakland International Airport.
Long Beach’s airport director oversees operations, finances and leases, community outreach, environmental matters (including the noise ordinance), capital improvements, security and air service.
Romo said he’s spent a lot of time learning about the airport’s unique characteristics, from its complex runway and airfield to its more complex noise ordinance, and of course, too, he’s catching up on the issue of the airport potentially adding a customs facility.
“Studying the details of the noise ordinance is the most challenging part of the job so far, but also the feasibility study for the FIS (Federal Inspection Services, or U.S. Customs) Facility,” Romo said, noting that talks about adding international flights started before he signed on as director.
“Our role (at the airport) is to be objective and report the findings of the study,” he said. “The report shows that there’s no singular prohibition to developing a FIS facility… I think some council members already have decided one way or the other, but some are still weighing options, and I hope each council member takes an open and honest look at the study.”
Romo said he and the staff take great pride in maintaining the facilities at the highest levels, continuing to make improvements that have been ongoing for more than five years and really started with the freshly remodeled terminal.
“We want to retain the boutique feel of this airport, and we want to help position the airport to be as healthy as possible in terms of growing revenue,” he said, noting that Parking Lot A, the garage nearest to the terminal, is being renovated this year and there will be some work done to the runways as well. Minor landscaping and beautification work also is ongoing.
Also on the agenda are improvements to the rental car facility, with Romo setting a goal to have that project’s specific plans prepared by the end of 2017.
“This is one of the most public-friendly airports, and it’s important for us to show that we are here to serve the community with this city asset,” Romo said about making LGB the most attractive travel venue possible for its 2.8 million annual resident and visitor passengers.
“I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to working with the community, all airport stakeholders and partners,” he said. “I am committed to being an approachable and responsive steward of this great airport.”
Ashleigh Ruhl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.