Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

After three and a half years in the pilot seat at Border Coast Regional Airport, Airport Director Matthew Leitner announced that he’s flying the coop.

Outside the Crescent City - Del Norte Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Summit Friday, Leitner explained that he will be going back to his childhood hometown of Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

“That was my genesis,” Leitner said. “I was the resident airport kid there, growing up. I used to ride my bicycle out to the airport and do anything for an airplane ride or instruction.”

Leitner said the previous director of Rhinelander’s airport contacted him upon retiring with 30 years at the helm.

“I knew him as a kid,” Leitner said. “It’s an honor that he’s asked me to succeed him as airport director.”

Leitner said he went through the application process with the former director and the airport commission in Rhinelander.

“It was a difficult decision,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of lifelong friends and leaving them is heart rending, but I’m very grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given here. I think we’ve accomplished a lot, as I’ve said, my wish is that those accomplishments will serve as an adequate measure of my gratitude for that opportunity.”

Of those accomplishments was his part in the development and construction of a new airport terminal, which is expected to reach completion by year’s end.

Leitner’s last day at the airport is April 19, and his first day at his new job will be May 2, he said.

Airport Program Manager Susan Daugherty will serve as the airport’s interim director as the hiring process unfolds.

“There’s no one better person to serve as airport director than Susan,” Leitner said. “She’s intimately familiar with every facet of our airports.”

Airport Sit Rep

Asked about the airport’s transition into Alternate Essential Air Service with Contour Airlines, Leitner said the process is going well.

“Earlier this morning, I asked where we are at for ticket sales and we’re at 1,520 tickets sold, so it’s going and it’s proven to be popular already.”

He said since flights will start April 11, he plans to assist Contour until the opening and plans to be in Crescent City for Contour’s first day and inaugural flight.

“More to come,” he said, regarding any celebrations to take place that day. “I believe there will be inaugural festivities in both Oakland and Crescent City. Both of those flights have sold out, so we’ll probably have a similar celebration here in Crescent City.”

Following his announcement inside the economic summit, Del Norte County Supervisors Gerry Hemmingsen and Chris Howard recognized Leitner’s work.

Hemmingsen invited Leitner back for the year-end opening of the Airport’s new terminal.

“What you’ve done to make this place a gem will never be forgotten and I hope you get your hand stamped in the concrete at the new terminal,” Howard said.

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