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HIGHFILL -- Regional airport board members narrowed the number of hopefuls to three vying to replace the executive director.

Scott Van Laningham, executive director and CEO, is retiring later this year.

The board on Thursday interviewed six candidates, who had been selected from more than 30 applicants. Aaron Burkes, Steve Hennigan and Kelly Johnson made the cut.

Burkes is president of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority.

Hennigan is an assistant general manager for operations at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

Johnson is the airport director at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport.

A second round of interviews with the applicants is slated for late September.

Tom Nolan, executive director at Palm Springs International Airport in California, decided to withdraw from consideration after his interview with the board.

The board hired Russell Reynolds Assoc., an executive search firm, to recruit Van Laningham's replacement.

XNA began succession planning in October. Russell Reynolds came on board in November.

The regional airport has 47 employees and a 2017 budget of about $24 million. Van Laningham makes just more than $200,000 per year.

The average annual salary is about $250,000 for the similar position at 10 airports, including Little Rock; Tulsa, Okla.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Omaha, Neb.

Russell Reynolds is expected to recommend to the board how duties will be divvied among top management and what the organizational chart will look like.

Hiring a chief executive is a priority so several others can be hired for leadership positions, including a chief finance officer, a chief operations officer and possibly a chief business development officer, which would be a new position.

Russell Reynolds is being paid about $200,000.

NW News on 09/01/2018

Print Headline: Candidates to lead XNA cut to three

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