JMAA CEO resigns, will stay on 90 days to help management team with transition

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Two and a half years after he took on the role, Paul Brown has resigned as chief executive officer of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority.

Brown confirmed his resignation in a phone interview with WLBT on Wednesday afternoon.

He will remain in the position for the next 90 days to help the authority with the transition.

“I guaranteed a smooth transition to the management team. Hopefully, we will resolve some of the smaller projects we’re working on around grounds, maintenance, and safety. And I’ll get myself into another venue, so I can make a critical difference for another major airport,” he said.

Brown did not offer details on why he was stepping down. However, the decision appeared to be an abrupt one after he left a JMAA board meeting on Tuesday.

Brown would not comment on why he left that meeting.

He also would not say whether his decision to resign was related to the controversy surrounding Richard’s Disposal Inc.

Richard’s, which began picking up trash in the capital city on April 1, currently houses its trucks and local call center at Hawkins Field.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently told the airport that Richard’s would have to vacate the site. FAA rules mandate that “federally obligated airports may use airport property only for aviation-related purposes unless otherwise approved by the FAA.”

That notification came on April 26, only days after correspondence from FAA officials indicated that they would approve Richard’s using the site. Days later, on May 5, Brown asked FAA to reconsider its decision.

Since then, Brown says he has been in talks with the New Orleans-based Richard’s about relocating, but could not provide details on if and when that would happen.

“We want to keep the airport as safe as possible,” he said. “And we have been monitoring (their) activities.”

Brown, who says Richard’s use of the site has not impacted airport safety, tells WLBT it was not his decision to bring the trash contractor to the facility, and that he was absent when JMAA commissioners “made the go-forward decision to put the action item on the agenda.”

“(That was) a board and mayor decision. Technically, it is the board that makes the decisions about the airport. They’re the sponsor. That’s their role. They decide on how we use the property and render air service,” he said.

“I appreciate what the mayor has done to restore trash service. It’s just unfortunate it doesn’t comply with FAA guidelines.”

Brown joined JMAA on January 13, 2020, shortly before the COVID-19 outbreak. The Florida A&M graduate brought with him more than 25 years of experience, including time at the Chicago O’Hare and Washington Reagan National airports, according to JMAA’s website.

During his tenure with JMAA, Jackson-Evers airport achieved several milestones, including seeing a sharp increase in service following the pandemic and seeing Southwest Airlines return.

The low-cost airline carrier announced its plans to return in 2020, after leaving Jackson-Medar Wiley Evers International Airport in 2014.

“It’s been a big challenge, but a rewarding one,” he said. “I am very committed to the safety and success of passengers and the success of JMAA, and I guaranteed the board I would leave this airport better than I found it. And I think I did that already.”

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