CWA names Grefe new airport director
The assistant airport director at Aspen, Colo., is the new airport director at the Central Wisconsin Airport (CWA) in Mosinee.
Brian J. Grefe will begin his duties at CWA Feb. 1. He succeeds Tony Yaron, who retired on Jan. 6.
Mark Cihlar, maintenance specialist at CWA, is serving as interim director until the end of February, giving Grefe time to acclimate himself to his new role.
Announcement of Grefe’s appointment came at the January Joint Airport Board meeting Wednesday, Jan. 6.
Grefe is one of about 30 applicants for the CWA post. He has served as assistant airport director for administration at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport in Colorado since April 2012.
He also was acting co-aviation director at the same airport for four months in late 2014. His prior work included a four-and-a-half year stint as director of operations at the Duluth, Minn., airport.
Grefe is a 2004 summa cum laude graduate of the aviation management program at St. Cloud (Minn.) State University and is a private pilot. His wife is a registered nurse, and they have two boys.
Grefe told the Gazette, “I am very excited to begin serving CWA and relocating to the area. I have deep roots in Wisconsin and couldn’t be happier to be returning home. Central Wisconsin Airport is known in the industry as a high quality and high performing organization. I am honored and humbled to be joining a team that has earned this reputation.”
At the Aspen airport, Grefe worked on financial planning and budgeting, development of the Airport Improvement Plan, managed federal and state grants, oversaw the airport security program, handled airport leases and supervised the airport administration staff. The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport handles about 35 flights per day during the winter ski season, but that number drops to the mid-single digits in the summer. CWA currently has nine commercial flights per day.
In his new role at CWA, Grefe will be responsible for planning, supervision and directing operations, finances, maintenance and long-range planning. He will work with the Joint Airport Board, federal officials, airport users and area business leaders in running the newly-remodeled and expanded terminal and related facilities at Mosinee. The $35million expansion project, which began in 2011, is just about complete.
Yaron leaves a legacy which includes planning for and overseeing construction of a $35 million dollar terminal expansion and renovation.
Also at this past Wednesday’s airport board session, Yaron noted two major upcoming projects. The time has come to update the airport’s Master Plan, a step necessary in order to obtain federal aid for future projects. And as part of that plan, work will begin in the next year to renovate runways 17/35, the north-south runways. That project will include decoupling that runway from the east west runway, a safety measure.
While final figures are not yet available, it appears the airport will conclude 2015 with a surplus of about $250,000 after service on its debt. The airport operates without tax levy dollars from its two ownership counties – Marathon and Portage.
Delta Airlines, which had operated three daily flights between CWA and the Twin Cities, has reduced that number to two until March, when it will resume its three daily flight schedule. Delta’s two flights now depart CWA at 7:15 a.m. and 3:43 p.m., with return flights to CWA arriving at 3:15 and 9:15 p.m. The CWA-Detroit flights are not affected.
Airport management plans to discuss with Delta the possibility of having Delta add a non-stop flight between CWA and Atlanta, but is not hopeful of success. Businesses in the area that use the airport say such a connection would be helpful and save employee travel time.
Meanwhile, Delta’s long-range plans make it appear that the airline will be curtailing service to regional markets over the next five years. The airline outlined a strategy in a Dec. 17 report to shareholders that had Delta using larger-capacity planes coupled with fewer flights to regional markets such as CWA. “Revenue growth comes from flying to the right places and offering customers what they want. Delta is continually adjusting its network to focus on markets where demand for travel is strong, while reducing capacity in weaker regions, said Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s chief revenue officer. And increasingly, that flying is being done on larger aircraft that are more popular with customers.”
The CWA opened in 1969 and served 39,000 departing passengers during its first year. In 2015, CWA finished with approximately 130,000 departing passengers.