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Sacramento International Airport has a new director

Take a trip down memory lane for SMF’s 50th anniversary

Sacramento International Airport celebrates its 50th anniversary on Oct. 21, 2017. See some vintage images from SMF’s history.
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Sacramento International Airport celebrates its 50th anniversary on Oct. 21, 2017. See some vintage images from SMF’s history.

Cynthia Nichol, a longtime airport executive most recently working in Portland, has been named the new Sacramento County director of airports, officials announced Tuesday.

She will take over on Oct. 22, replacing former airports head John Wheat, who retired earlier this year.

Nichol, a Harvard University School of Government graduate with 30 years of aviation business experience, will be responsible for overseeing Sacramento International Airport, as well as Mather and Executive airports.

Nichol will be paid $219,000 a year. With benefits, including healthcare and pension program, her annual compensation package totals $293,000, according to the county executive’s office. The county will pay up to $15,000 in moving expenses.

Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, whose district includes Sacramento International Airport, said the new director will have a long to-do list, “everything from promoting economic development at SMF, to ensuring the enterprise fund remains healthy, to pursuing labor peace with bargaining units, and even helping with overflight noise abatement effort.”

Nichol said in an emailed statement she is looking forward to being “part of a host of compelling initiatives” the county airports department is pursuing.

“It will be challenging and rewarding to attract more air service to additional destinations, build a consolidated rental car facility and additional parking facilities, and further develop Mather to serve large all-cargo aircraft,” she wrote. “I am eager to build good working relationships with county leaders, our community, and airport stakeholders including the airlines.”

Nichol worked from 2008 to 2012 as finance director for San Francisco International Airport. Since then, she has served as chief financial officer for the Port of Portland in Oregon, which oversees Portland International Airport. She worked earlier at the Massachusetts Port Authority and for private airport consultants.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College in Minnesota, a master’s degree in African studies from the University of London and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University, according to a biography published by Sacramento County.

“Ms. Nichol brings a diverse and extensive background in airport management that is well suited for Sacramento County,” County Executive Nav Gill wrote in a statement Tuesday. “We are pleased to welcome her in her new role.”

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