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New Lindbergh Field director named

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SAN DIEGO – The agency that operates San Diego’s Lindbergh Field announced Monday that the director of the San Jose airport will become its new president and CEO.

Kimberley Becker will succeed the retiring Thella Bowens on May 1, according to the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

Becker has worked at Mineta San Jose International Airport for 22 years, and been director since 2013.

“We undertook a thorough, deliberate process to find our next leader,” said Airport Authority Chairwoman April Boling.

“Our search committee reached out to community and industry leaders, and we thank them for their invaluable input,” Boling said. “We engaged internationally renowned search firm Korn Ferry, cast a very wide net geographically and by industry, and identified numerous well-qualified candidates.”

She said the board wanted to continue the progress made under Bowens, the only leader the Airport Authority has had since its creation 14 years ago.

San Diego’s airport has been adding numerous nonstop routes, is building a new Customs and Border Protection facility to accommodate the growth of international arrivals and is planning the replacement of the 50-year-old Terminal 1. A massive expansion of Terminal 2 was completed 3 1/2 years ago.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity that I am honored to have,” Becker said. “Thella has built a strong organization and culture. Succeeding her allows me to leverage all that I have done in San Jose and to build on a very solid foundation.”

Becker has been overseeing renewed growth at San Jose’s airport, which serves California’s third-largest city and is a gateway to the Silicon Valley, where several high-tech companies are just a stone’s throw away. The use of Mineta declined drastically because of the recession, which occurred right in the middle of a major expansion project.

The number of passengers that went through Mineta’s terminals last year was 10.8 million, a 10.2 percent increase over the prior year, and four major international routes were added. By comparison, nearly 21 million passengers passed through San Diego’s gates, according to the Airport Authority.

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