Lafayette Regional Airport commissioners Wednesday decided to offer Amarillo, Texas, airport deputy director Steven Picou the job of director of the Lafayette Regional Airport, skipping further interviews with Picou and two other finalists for a position that’s been vacant since June.
The Lafayette Airport Board of Commissioners’ legal department will contact Picou on Thursday to offer him the job, after which negotiations will begin.
Picou, 43, is currently deputy director of aviation at the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport, where he has worked since 2008.
A native of Cut Off, Picou received a four-year aviation management degree in 1992 from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. He began his career as an operations officer at New Orleans International Airport and later worked at Albuquerque International Airport.
The commission voted 7-0 to offer Picou the job, though not all of the commissioners were expecting to make the decision Thursday.
Although each commissioner was given video recordings of interviews conducted with the three finalists, only three commissioners who served on the director search committee met one or more of the finalists during trips late last year.
Commissioner Valerie Garrett, who served on the search committee and visited one of the candidates in Atlanta, said Wednesday that she preferred to bring the final three candidates to Lafayette for face-to-face interviews with the entire seven-member commission. She said it would give each commissioner a better feel for each.
“I just think it’s the right thing to do,” Garrett said.
However, when it came time, she voted with the other six commissioners to offer the job to Picou.
Depending on how negotiations proceed, Lafayette Regional Airport could have a director soon. The position pays $100,000 to $150,000 a year, airport officials said, though the salary and other negotiated aspects will have to be ratified by the full board at a special meeting.
Picou was one 34 candidates to apply for the job after commissioners began a national search in the second half of 2014. Longtime airport director Greg Roberts resigned in June.
The list of candidates was whittled to three in December: Picou; Ralph Hennessy, assistant director of aviation at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport; and Robert Kennedy, vice president of consulting services for Aviation Strategies International in Georgia and a former official at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Commission Chairman Matt Cruse said he reviewed recorded interviews of the three candidates, and “one was pretty much head and shoulders above the rest.” Cruse didn’t name which of the three he was describing, but voted with the others to offer the job to Picou.
The next director will have much on his plate. The Lafayette airport is abuzz with projects, including construction of a new Bell Helicopter assembly plant, located on airport grounds, that will command the director’s attention.
Also in the works is the beginning phase of an expanded terminal and parking lot. Lafayette Parish voters in December passed a 1-cent sales tax to be levied from April 1 through Nov. 30 to help pay for the terminal. Tax proceeds, estimated to be between $35 million and $37 million, will be used with state and federal money along with debt to pay for the project, estimated to cost $90 million.