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Clark County Department of Aviation director to retire

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Updated: 2/20/2013 6:12 pm
LAS VEGAS -- In a letter sent to County Manager Don Burnette, Randall H. Walker has announced he will retire as director of the Clark County Department of Aviation on June 3.

The Department of Aviation is a self-sustaining enterprise fund with nearly 1,500 full-time employees. Walker, a 59-year-old Nevada native, has led the organization since May 1997, providing valuable oversight of McCarran International Airport as well as four Southern Nevada general aviation airports.

McCarran grew significantly during Walker’s tenure, handling nearly 41.7 million passengers in 2012. In recent years, the Las Vegas airport has consistently ranked among the 10 busiest in North America. Walker also served as deputy director of aviation, assistant county manager and finance director during his more than 22 years as a County employee.

“Randy Walker is known for his commitment to customer service, his management savvy and for his ability to look forward and plan for our community’s future needs,” Burnette said. “With that in mind, it’s easy to see why under his leadership the airport has seen tremendous growth and success over the past decade and a half. McCarran is not only an economic force integral to our hospitality and tourism industry, but our airport has become a model within its industry that is emulated around the globe.”

When Walker joined the department in November 1990, McCarran welcomed slightly more than 19 million passengers per year. As Southern Nevada’s resort industry and local population boomed during the subsequent years, Walker helped plan and execute numerous improvements at or near McCarran, including the D Concourse, Airport Connector Tunnel and McCarran Rent-A-Car Center. Runways were added or renovated, while new checkpoints and screening facilities came online following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Last summer, Walker opened Terminal 3, the largest capital expansion project in McCarran’s 65-year history and the largest public works project ever in Nevada. The nearly 2 million-square-foot terminal building brought 14 additional gates, seven configured for international arrivals, a 6,000-space parking structure, two security checkpoints, an expanded U.S. Customs and Border Protection port and more than a dozen new stores and restaurants. The facility can also support the ticketing and baggage claim needs for up to 26 gates at the nearby D Concourse, providing space for future growth within the local travel industry. “T3” opened to international acclaim on June 27, and was completed on time and within its $2.4 billion budget.

“I am proud of what the airport team has accomplished in my tenure as Director of Aviation for Clark County,” Walker said. “Our vision is to ‘Be a Global Leader,’ and we have certainly accomplished this in several areas. I know the team will continue to work toward that vision for all areas of the operation going forward. McCarran is a key economic asset for Southern Nevada, and I believe we have met the challenge of supporting the needs of this community, helping it to grow into a destination that’s known the world over.”

Bob Montgomery, Vice President Airport Affairs for Southwest Airlines Co., said, “Southwest Airlines extends its congratulations to Randy as he winds down what has been a truly remarkable career at McCarran International Airport. For years Las Vegas has been an integral part of Southwest’s system, and our growth and success there would never have been possible without the partnership of an airport that shared our desire to give our passengers the best experience possible. Randy and his management team never wavered from that goal, and for that our airline extends its heartfelt gratitude and respect.”

Under Walker, McCarran also became one of the first U.S. airports to implement the Common Use Terminal Equipment program, which allows airlines to quickly and easily move between different sections of the airport, thereby increasing McCarran’s operational flexibility. It also became the first and only North American airport to utilize a radio frequency identification (RFID) system to track 100 percent of all outbound checked baggage. Through all the changes and improvements, McCarran continued to earn high praise from travelers, including the 2006 J.D. Power and Associates award for highest customer satisfaction among major North American airports.

"The LVCVA and McCarran International Airport have developed a marketing partnership that is envied throughout the industry, seamlessly integrating the branding of the destination and the airport over the years,” said Rossi Ralenkotter, president/CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “Randy has played a key role developing Las Vegas into a thriving domestic and international destination – which includes more than 180 weekly international flights, redefined the experience for international visitors with the opening of Terminal 3, and helped secure the World Routes conference for the first time ever in the United States. I wish Randy well in his future endeavors and thank him for all his contributions to the Las Vegas tourism industry.”

Walker also lent his expertise to causes that benefitted the travel industry, both globally and locally. He has testified on Capitol Hill on matters such as aviation security and was highly involved with the trade group Airports Council International, serving as its North America board chairman in 2008 and on its World board for six years.

Walker joined the Department of Aviation in November 1990, when he accepted the position of deputy director. In this role, Walker was directly involved in the airport’s implementation of the Passenger Facility Charge program. McCarran was among the first airports in the nation to have its PFC application approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. Walker was assistant county manager for Clark County from 1996 to 1997, when he oversaw 12 County departments and provided fiscal oversight for District Court, Justice Court and all of Clark County’s elected officials. In 1995, Walker served as director of the County’s Department of Finance.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting (Magna Cum Laude) from Brigham Young University in 1977, Walker held a variety of budget and management positions. He was an analyst in the Clark County Manager’s office in 1979 and the business manager for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in 1980.

He served as deputy city manager for the city of Las Vegas for six years before rejoining the County at the airport in 1990. During this time, Walker represented the city of Las Vegas in the Nevada State Legislature.

Walker was born in Boulder City and grew up in Henderson where he and his wife, Terry, raised their six children.

-- From news release
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