By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
All it took was a plane ride.
A few years ago, newly appointed South Texas International Airport at Edinburg (KEBG) Airport Manager Debora Melvin was taken for a plane ride by a visitor to her airport. That short ride stoked the aviation fire for Melvin and the City of Edinburg has benefited ever since.
Her recent efforts paid off this spring when Melvin won the 2013 General Aviation Manager of the Year award during the 31st Annual Texas Aviation Conference held in Austin May 13–15.
Melvin had worked for Edinburg for 10 years, assisting the airport from time to time with administrative duties. When the airport position opened up, she applied for the airport manager’s job. If one expected Melvin to be intimidated by her new position, one would be wrong.
“I’ve always been aggressive in getting things done,” said Melvin. “If I don’t know how to do something, I figure out how or find someone who does and then learn from them.”
One of the first steps Melvin took was joining the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). “That has been instrumental in my acquisition of knowledge and broadened my ideas of how to promote the airport and expand our level of services,” she said.
Among Melvin’s accomplishments are helping to secure funding and approval for much-needed improvements such as a runway structural capacity hot-mix asphalt concrete overlay and apron reconstruction, becoming a branded fuel dealer and developing a master plan and a detailed terminal-area development plan.
The airport also recently completed a new, full-length parallel taxiway, which improves safety and opens new areas of the airport for development.
The improvements in services and facilities have led to a 225 percent increase in operations and a 603 percent increase in Jet-A fuel sales, as well as an increase in lease revenues, such as a 13-year lease with the Texas Department of Public Safety– Aircraft Sector.
A few months ago, the airport also recently broke ground on a U.S. Customs User Fee Facility. Edinburg Airport will become one of 36 airports in the country designated as user-fee facilities. While not qualifying as an international or landing-rights facility due to insufficient volume of business, user-fee customs airports provide customs services for a fee.
“After the customs inspection facility is built, we’re going to lose some ramp space,” said Melvin. “So one of our main priorities is going to be to expand the apron and extend the taxilanes so we can promote more private development.”
When asked what it means to win the General Aviation Manager of the Year award, Melvin says she is proud to be the recipient. She is also quick to credit the support of city and economic development corporation, her involvement with AAAE and that initial plane ride.
“There’s no doubt the city and economic development corporation want the airport to succeed,” said Melvin. “I want them to be proud of who they have running their airport.”
For more information about the South Texas International Airport at Edinburg, visit their website at http://www.cityofedinburg.com/airport.php or their Airnav webpage at http://www.airnav.com/airport/KEBG.