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Hagener takes top job at airport


After spending the past 17 years in the No. 2 position at the Des Moines International Airport, Bob Hagener has been promoted to the top spot.   On Jan. 1, he replaced Aviation Director Bill Flannery, who has retired from that position after 19 years.

“All my airport experience, actually, is with this airport,” said Hagener, who has been deputy aviation director for operations and maintenance for the past nine years, and assistant aviation director for eight years prior to that. He joined the airport in February 1982 as an operations officer, and has also held positions as operations supervisor and property manager.

Flannery, who prior to his appointment as aviation director was assistant public works director for the city of Des Moines, began working for the city in 1976 in what was then the Traffic and   Transportation Department.

As aviation director, “one of my highlights has been able to operate the airport as a self-supporting financial enterprise within the city of Des Moines, in effect running it as a business,” Flannery said. “The project I’m proudest of, and there’s been a lot of them, is the extension of Runway 5-23.”

The recently completed project took seven years to finish and involved the relocation of Army Post Road. Ninety percent of the more than $80 million cost was paid by federal airport funds.

It was one of numerous projects Flannery and Hagener have overseen during the past two decades. Among other improvements have been a major remodeling of the terminal building in 1986, the addition of a parking garage and skywalk in 1998 and the recent expansion of the baggage claim area.

“Bob has been my right-hand man for my entire career,” said Flannery, who said he may look for another aviation-related job after taking some time off. “I’m very, very confident that Bob can take over and handle the operation in a way that will provide quality services and facilities to our users.”

One of Hagener’s challenges for the next several years will be to complete another major construction project that’s just beginning: a new general aviation runway to be built parallel to the main runway.

As the next development of the airport’s master plan, the seven-year project will allow the airport to eventually separate its general aviation operations from commercial airline and cargo traffic.

Other projects passengers will see in the future include improvements to make the boarding ramps less steep, and adding more boarding areas to fill out the existing concourses.

In the past few months, the airport has seen an upturn in passengers, as the fare differential between Des Moines and other Midwestern cities has shrunk, Hagener said.

Des Moines, currently among the top 50 U.S. airports in cargo handling, is poised to expand its cargo aviation operations as well. In 2003 the airport expanded its cargo apron space for parking and unloading aircraft, and construction is under way on an additional cargo building.

Because Des Moines International is not a hub airport, cargo carriers have an advantage in not having to deal with heavy air traffic, he said.

“In Chicago they might be No. 17 for takeoff,” he said. “Here, the worst it might be is they’re No. 2 for takeoff.”

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