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Regional Airport Authority President, CEO Thella Bowens Retires After 21 Years

Thella Bowens, the first and only president/CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, will retire at the end of March and move to Texas, the agency announced Friday.

Bowens has been in charge of Lindbergh Field for 21 years and led the facility's transition in the early 2000s from being operated by the Port of San Diego to being part of the SDCRAA.

"I have passionately enjoyed my time here, and I am so very proud of our exemplary organization and high-performing team," Bowens said. "As I move on to the next stage of my life, I do so knowing that the board and staff will continue to operate a world-class airport for the 21st century."


She said she is moving to Texas to be closer to family.

"We are extraordinarily fortunate to have had someone of Thella's impeccable character and steady hand guide the airport, and the authority, through so very much," said agency Board Chairwoman April Boling.

"From the launch of the authority in 2003, to a successful pivot after the defeat of the 2006 ballot measure (to relocated the facility), to the expansion of Terminal 2 and construction of the rental car center, to adding significant new domestic and international nonstop routes, to exemplary financial growth and stewardship, to making the airport a model of sustainability, her accomplishments comprise a stunning legacy," Boling said.

According to the airport authority, Lindbergh Field is the busiest single-runway airport in the U.S., serving a record 20 million passengers last year.

The airport has also built its portfolio of international flights, with nonstop service to the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and Mexico. Next year, Germany and Switzerland will be added to the list.


Airport authority assets under Bowens have grown from $473 million to $2.217 billion, and annual operating revenue has increased from $97 million to $234 million, agency officials said.