Longtime RDU chief Brantley to retire

Posted March 24, 2011 3:31 p.m. EDT

— John Brantley, who has overseen operations at Raleigh-Durham International Airport for 29 years, announced Thursday that he would retire this summer.

Brantley's last day will be July 31, and the airport board has already formed a committee to search for his successor.

Brantley began his career in aviation 45 years ago with the Federal Aviation Administration. He started at RDU in 1977 as an engineering assistant and become airport director five years later.

During his tenure, RDU has evolved from a mid-sized regional airport to an American Airlines hub to a thriving airport with flights that stretch coast to coast and include several international destinations.

One of the first major projects completed under Brantley’s guidance was a long-range master plan that resulted in the construction of the airport’s 10,000-foot runway. One year later, red-roofed Terminal C was built by American Airlines for its Southeast hub operations.

After American pulled out in the mid-1990s, RDU became the base for Midway Airlines, which catered to the region's business travelers. Midway ceased operations in the economic downtown that followed 9/11, but Brantley and his staff recruited Southwest Airlines, jetBlue and other carriers to provide more options for area flyers.

Last year, 9.1 million passengers traveled through RDU, a 1.5 percent increase over 2009.

Brantley also oversaw the growth in RDU's operations, from the 11,000-space parking garage between the two airport terminals to the redevelopment of the general aviation area to the construction of the $570 million Terminal 2, which opened ahead of schedule and under budget in January.