New Chandler airport manager has high hopes - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

New Chandler airport manager has high hopes

January 17th, 2022 development
New Chandler airport manager has high hopes

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

Chandler’s new airport manager jokes he had little choice in what career to pursue.

“I grew up in a family, quite honestly, if you didn’t like aviation, disownment was considered,” Ryan Reeves said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. I live, eat, breathe aviation. It’s my favorite thing in the world outside of my family, and my kids are sick with it.”

The city selected Reeves to be its airport manager, promoting him from airport business coordinator, a position he has held since 2019. Reeves said it was a natural progression for a kid who is the third generation of his family to work in aviation.

Before that he was coordinator of the Buckeye Municipal Airport and general manager for Lux Air Jet Centers at Phoenix-Goodyear Airport.

The 44-year-old Reeves said he’s received a lot of support since the announcement was made.

“I’ve been choked up more times than I can count,” Reeves said. “You would think there’s something wrong with me. People have been saying the nicest things, and I’ve just been so welcomed. It’s overwhelming.”

Reeves has a number of duties. He describes his job as being a bit of a tactician.

“They make sure that the dreams of Council, the dreams of the city management at the airport get fulfilled, but at the same time make sure everybody stays within the lines of federal regulations and state regs.”

One of his duties is to help bring in new businesses that will set up shop inside the airport’s outer fence. He said there is a huge need for more hangars and service shops.

“What we need right now is simply more hangars, not necessarily small hangars, but larger hangars where businesses can operate to support existing aircraft,” Reeves said. “There’s seemingly a wait list for everything. We need hangars for every make and model of aircraft that can utilize this airport.”

There are 450 aircraft based at Chandler Municipal Airport. It has two maintenance businesses and four flight schools located inside of the facility’s fence.

Reeves said they have multiple requests for proposals out and will ultimately let the market decide what businesses will be added to the airport. But he said he hopes to see more large hangars added.

Reeves lives in the West Valley and commutes daily, saying the recently-opened Loop 202 has cut his travel time by more than half. He graduated from Eastern Illinios University and earned a master’s degree from the University of Illinois. He is in the process of earning a private pilot’s license, something both his grandfather and father accomplished.

The city has been trying to lengthen the runways at airport for a while. A previous City Council put in a mandate that any such project would have to be put before voters in a bond election. The city has tried twice – and it has been defeated twice.

Reeves said it will take educating voters to get it passed. He said too many people think if the runways are longer, it will open the door for major passenger airlines – which he said is not true.

“The runway can never be that long,” Reeves said. “What we got now can take mid-size jets. If we lengthen it out to 5,550 feet, which is the longest we can get that southern runway, two things are interesting.”

First, is that they can do it inside the existing fence, so no land needs to be acquired Second, he said, it won’t necessarily mean more airplanes, but it will lead to more cycles. That means the airplanes that are already using the field will be able to do so year-round.

“Even some of our smaller aircraft, as we get into the heat of summer, hot air is thin air, so an airplane needs a longer runway to get off,” Reeves said.

Reeves said some businesses that utilize the airport have to be careful about how much weight they have on their planes to ensure they can take off on the shorter runways. Lengthening them will allow them to carry more weight.

He also said shorter runways are costing the city money. Some business planes are forced to go to other airports. Reeves said the large passenger jets will continue to operate at Phoenix Sky Harbor and Mesa Gateway airports and will not be coming to Chandler.

Reeves says Chandler is the 32nd busiest airport in the nation with about a quarter of million flights annually.

The airport is still waiting on a final report from the National Transportation Safety Board about the fatal crash that took place at the airport in October.

Reeves said air travel remains very safe. He said he is confident that they have excellent service from the Chandler and Gilbert fire departments. Reeves said they have been staging drills and says the response time has been very good.

Reeves says one of the best aspects of his job is that the Chandler Airport is a fun place to work.

“It is one of the best flying communities, not just in the state. I think it’s one of the best flying communities in the country,” Reeves said.