Friday, February 3, 2012

Comox Valley Airport CEO resigning for 'personal reasons'

By Spencer Anderson, Comox Valley Echo
February 3, 2012

Shirley de Silva is stepping down as CEO of Comox Valley Airport on April 30, citing only "personal reasons."

She has not explained the reasons for her departure, and has declined to give an interview on the subject.

"I greatly appreciate the support that the Comox Valley Airport Commission has given me during my tenure here," said de Silva in a YQQ statement. She has served as CEO since January 2010.

"I am fully confident in the abilities of both the [CVAC] Board and the management team to achieve the goals envisioned in our strategic plan," she continued.

"I am certain that the transition ahead will be a smooth one and I am committed to working cooperatively over the coming weeks and months to ensure that the organization is prepared for my departure."

CVAC board chair Brad Minton told the Echo news of de Silva's resignation came as a surprise.

"We had hoped that she would be with us for a number of years, but she's decided to move on, so we are reluctantly supporting her decision and we'll miss her greatly," said Minton.

Although Minton said he knew why de Silva was leaving, he declined to comment further, adding it was a private matter.

"The reality is, people make decisions based on what works best for them, and we're saddened by the fact that she's made this decision, but we're happy with the work that she did," Minton said. "She's planning to move on, and so are we."

Minton praised de Silva for her work at the airport, which has seen passenger numbers increase by four per cent since she was hired.

He credited her for "enhancing the corporate culture of CVAC" and leaving the airport in a stronger and more competitive position than when she arrived.

Since de Silva's tenure began, the airport has acquired charter flight services to Fort Nelson and Mexico, and launched a new branding and marketing campaign.

"She's going to be with us until the end of April, and in that time, she's going to be pretty busy," said Minton.

"[She will be] wrapping up the financial statements for 2011, she's got to prepare the budgets for 2012 and we're going to be working with her on a transition plan to seek a replacement for the CEO position."

Minton said it would be difficult to replace de Silva, but the board would begin the search for a new CEO in short order.

He said the board plans to look across Canada, as they did when de Silva was hired. Before starting at YQQ, she was airport manager at Kingston Norman Rogers Airport in Ontario.

de Silva is the second senior airport staff member to step down in recent months. Former airport operations manager Ian Heselgrave left his post last month to become director of operations at School District 71.

de Silva or the next CEO is tasked with finding his replacement. Alex Robertson is currently acting operations manager.

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