Is the CEO of Ontario Airport planning to leave? Mark Thorpe was a finalist for Orlando’s work – Press Enterprise
Ontario International Airport CEO Mark Thorpe was interviewed this week as a finalist for a job in Florida, but it was not immediately clear whether he planned to leave Southern California.
Thorpe, one of four finalists for the job of CEO at Orlando International Airport, was ultimately not chosen for the job, the Florida airport’s parent agency announced on Wednesday (January 19).
Thorpe did not return phone calls seeking comment Thursday night. Ontario International Airport Authority Chairman Alan Wapner also did not return a phone call Thursday.
Curt Hagman, chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and OIAA board member, said he suspected Thorpe was looking to leave the ONT and seek employment elsewhere.
“I knew he might be looking,” Hagman said. He wouldn’t argue if Thorpe was unhappy with the ONT.
“We really appreciate what Mark has contributed during his tenure as CEO (of Ontario Airport) and wish him the best for the future,” Hagman said.
Thorpe joined Ontario Airport in September 2016 and became CEO in October 2017, around the period the airport gained its local control from the city of Los Angeles and the global airports of Los Angeles. He has been CEO most of the time since the airport gained independence and formed a joint authority with the City of Ontario and San Bernardino County.
In 2020, Thorpe earned $435,388 in total salary, according to the California State Comptroller’s Office.
However, despite his notoriety at the ONT, he was absent from the airport five-year gala held at the Ontario Convention Center on November 1, 2021. Thorpe’s name was not mentioned at the event and he was not part of the program, which was hosted by Assistant General Manager Atif Elkadi.
For the past six months, Thorpe has not attended OIAA board meetings, according to the latest OIAA meeting minutes. The minutes reveal that Elkadi would sign contracts with new terminal vendors or construction contractors with his name and the mention “for Mark Thorpe”.
Thorpe’s performance was evaluated by the OIAA Board of Trustees at four separate meetings in 2021. According to records, these took place on August 13, August 26, September 13 and October 28.
Earlier this month Thorpe was identified as one of the four finalists out of 60 applicants for the job at Orlando airport. This week, after a final question-and-answer interview with candidates on Wednesday, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority’s board of directors selected Florida’s secretary of transportation. Kevin Thibault as the next CEO, replacing Phil Brown, who is retiring on January 31.
Besides Thorpe and Thibault, finalists for the Orlando job included Lance Lyttle, CEO of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and Jackie Yaft, CEO of Austin Bergstrom International Airport.
“Thorpe made a presentation to the board and the board asked questions,” said Carolyn Fennell, director of public affairs at Orlando Airport. “They were excellent candidates.”
A board member described Thorpe as “innovative”, “strategic”, “bold” and “inspiring”. Fennell said Thibault has the advantage because he works with all Florida airports and has extensive experience in various aspects of public transportation in Florida.
The post at Orlando International Airport would have been a step forward for Thorpe. Orlando airport handled about 51 million annual passengers before the pandemic, compared to about 5 million at Ontario airport, and is the busiest airport in the state of Florida.