TxDOT honors airport manager
May 28, 2013
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  • Debora Melvin is a jack of all trades at Edinburg’s airport.

    Since she was named manager at the South Texas International Airport at Edinburg in 2006, Melvin has learned to juggle responsibilities that range from routine maintenance to high-level operational decisions, said Tom Reyna, Edinburg’s assistant public works director and her immediate supervisor.

    “She goes from fueling a jet plane to trimming a hedge at the airport,” Reyna said. “But customer service is her main goal.”

    For her work in all arenas, Melvin was named by the Texas Department of Transportation last week as its General Aviation Airport Manager of the Year, an award that recognizes employees for their contributions at nearly 300 airports statewide. Melvin, who leads a four-person staff at the airport, received the award in recognition of the airport’s improvements in services and facilities that led to a 225 percent increase in takeoffs and landings and a 600 percent increase in fuel sales during her tenure.

    Melvin, a certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives, credited the airport’s emphasis on both large and small clients.

    The Texas Department of Public Safety is easily the airport’s largest client, basing its aerial operations there with helicopters and a small jet aircraft that are used for border security purposes. But Melvin has also worked to attract new clients, whether it’s a flight school, charter services or crop dusters.

    With the City Council’s support, Melvin has also been at the forefront of Edinburg’s investments into the quiet airport on the outskirts of town. The city wants to develop the airport as a base for cargo and emergency response operations in the Valley.

    The city is building a $1 million customs facility to allow international flights to land at the airport that has already been designated as a foreign trade zone. Edinburg is also using $2.8 million in state and local matching funds to construct a new taxiway and another $1 million toward designing and constructing a fuel facility.

    The city’s next priority is a runway extension that would take it from 5,000 feet to 7,800 feet, allowing airport officials to accommodate larger planes that need more room for takeoffs and landings.

    Melvin said the city’s investments helped her garner the recognition from TxDOT, but it was also due to her staff’s work on building customer satisfaction. When she found the airport’s location far away from town was a hindrance to some corporations, she organized the airport’s ground transportation service, often serving as the shuttle driver herself.

    “It’s all the small steps that we’ve taken along the way,” Melvin said last week after she was recognized by the city council for the award. “We do whatever we can to meet the customer’s needs.”