Meet the Interim Director of Aviation at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport
The Assistant Airport Director at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport (BTR) for the past 15 years, Ralph Hennessy, has taken over the controls as the Interim Director after the retirement of Anthony Marino. The Baton Rouge Metro Council, which acts as the Airport Authority, voted to appoint Hennessy Interim Director.
"I appreciate this opportunity, and look forward to continuing to serve our customers in this expanded role," stated Hennessy. "I want to work closely with the community, especially the businesses and organizations that fly frequently from BTR, or have potential to utilize BTR more often. We want an airport that works to meet the expectations of our travelers, including providing a pleasant atmosphere with processes that get the passengers to and through the airport efficiently."
Hennessy stated that the airport has expanded its revenue sources to include many non-aviation areas to maintain its self-sustaining status as an Enterprise Fund that does not receive city tax funds.
"By continuing to expand our revenues we keep operating costs competitive with other airports." A recent study confirmed that BTR supports nearly $1.1 billion in economic output, a figure that includes more than 4,500 combined direct and indirect jobs created by the airport and its leaseholders throughout the Aviation Business Park, as well as annual state tax revenues of $19.5 million.
"An example of more community engagement was a recent visit we made to American Airline's headquarters to meet with officials from the airline's Planning Department about new air service for BTR," Hennessy said. "Baton Rouge Area Chamber President Adam Knapp joined us to share information about the area's strong business travel demand and show support for potential new flights."
Mr. Hennessy said that the airport staff has multiple airline meetings every year, including 15 this year. These range from our incumbent airlines - American, Delta, and United - to carriers not serving BTR such as Southwest, Allegiant, Frontier, OneJet and others. Hennessy explained that with four airlines controlling 86% of the domestic seating capacity, and many of the non-network airlines focusing on large markets, it is a challenging time to secure additional air service. "It is difficult for an airport to do it alone, but when we can convince an airline that the community will support new service it improves our prospects."
Hennessy noted that American, Delta, and United have been incrementally increasing aircraft size at BTR. United, for example, began scheduling several of the larger, dual-class Embraer 170/175 jets at BTR in September. This additional seating capacity was a key factor in United's 12.3% increase in BTR enplanements in September. American and Delta were up as well, resulting in a 6.98% increase in total airport enplanements.
In addition to his 15 years as Assistant Director at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport, Mr. Hennessy was the Assistant Operations Manager at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport for 7 years. Prior to that he worked with Trans World Airlines (TWA). A native of St. Francisville and graduate of West Feliciana High, Hennessy holds a B.S. Degree in Professional Aviation from Louisiana Tech. He and his wife, DeAnn have been married for 22 years and have two children, Grace and Drew.