Airport director calls Mayor Troup ‘rude, dismissive and personally offensive’ in announcing resignation

Chuck Miller

Chuck Miller, director of Quincy Regional Airport, makes a point during Wednesday's Aeronautics Committee meeting at Quincy City Hall. | David Adam

QUINCY — Chuck Miller believes he’s leaving Quincy Regional Airport in a better place than it was when he started in October 2022.

“No question about that,” he said. “People at the airport are working together quite well, and people are hopeful about getting things done. We’re even doing some things proactively here to try to extend the life of airport pavement. Some of the stuff we’re done, I think, is going to make a big difference long-term.”

However, Miller says his relationship with Quincy Mayor Mike Troup forced him to submit a letter during Wednesday’s Aeronautics Committee meeting notifying the city of his plan to resign his position as airport manager on April 17.

“I realize that with every positive there is often some negative that offsets the positive effects,” Miller said in an interview with Muddy River News. “In my case, that has been a combination of the attitudes, actions and insulting behaviors consistently displayed by the mayor toward me. 

“No matter the public persona he displays, in private Mike is rude, dismissive and personally offensive.  I will no longer accept this demeaning behavior.”

Miller declined to give specific instances of Troup’s behavior that led to his resignation.

Miller told the aeronautics committee about his decision at the end of Wednesday’s meeting. Aldermen Eric Entrup (R-1) and Jake Reed (R-6) both thanked Miller for his time, as did committee member Ron Frillman.

“I’ve enjoyed being here and wrestling around the table with most of you,” Miller said.

Troup said after the meeting that Miller had informed him of his intention to leave last week. Asked about some of the comments in Miller’s letter (repeated in his interview with MRN), Troup replied, “I haven’t seen the letter. Until I read it, I couldn’t respond.”

Named manager of the airport in September 2022, Miller thought “things have gone well” when reviewing his work at the airport.

He said when he first arrived in Quincy he learned the Federal Aviation Administration had made 18 findings as part of a recent Part 139 certification inspection. Miller explained that earning the certification allows an airport to continue scheduling passenger service and airplane traffic. It also puts airports in “higher categories” for getting money from the FAA.

Miller said he and operations manager Tairu Zong addressed each of those findings.

Miller also said he oversaw the completion of the first three phases of the airport’s runway repair project, which led to:

  • Removal of a third runway.
  • Raising (by three inches) and repaving of Runway 22 with lighting installed.
  • Construction of an apron, taxi lane and road for a hangar owned by Knapheide Manufacturing.

The fourth phase, which will begin May 1, calls for raising one end of the 4/22 runway by more than 4½ feet.

Miller also said he coordinated the Tuskegee Airmen exhibit in October 2023. He said more than 2,500 people visited the airport to see the display.

The Quincy City Council voted in August 2022 to have Southern Airways Express of Palm Beach, Fla., replace Cape Air as the airport’s essential air service provider.  Troup said at the time he didn’t want to see the airport lose twin-engine airplane service (which Cape Air provided). However, if aldermen rejected bids from Southern Airways and Boutique Air from San Francisco and went out for more bids, Troup said it was a “slim likelihood” that a twin-engine carrier would submit another proposal.

Southern Airways’ first year as Quincy’s air service provider was rocky.

The airline’s contract called for 1,728 flights per year (144 flights offered monthly), but the airline only completed 1,172 flights (67.8 percent) in 2023. Southern Airways did improve from June through December, completing 76.9 percent (776 out of 1,008 flights).

The Quincy airport didn’t surpass 600 passengers in a month last year, totaling 4,977 for the year — a monthly average of 414. An average of 833 passengers per month would allow the airport to receive a $1 million federal grant.

Miller reported during Wednesday’s meeting that 352 passengers were on 124 flights (86.1 percent completion rate) in March. Of the 20 flights canceled, Miller said seven were for maintenance issues, 10 for weather and three for lack of crew.

Mark Cestari, chief commercial officer for Southern Airways, said in an October 2023 interview with Muddy River News that several reasons — a pilot shortage, supply chain problems with the acquisition of parts, a lack of planes and escalating operating costs — led to the declining numbers.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years, including 9-11. This is the most severe disruption of our industry ever,” Cestari said.

Miller said he “got along well” with Southern Airways Express.

“I don’t control their airplanes or their criteria,” he said. “I’ve done everything I can (to help with declining numbers), but what I can do is very limited. It’s completely outside the city’s control.

“There have been some speed bumps along the way, but they have not been major speed bumps for the most part. There’s going to be growing pains (with a new carrier). Unfortunately, they sort of bear out the saying that when everything’s said and done, more stuff got said than what got done.”

Miller’s salary for Fiscal Year 2024 was $79,310. He said he will begin working April 29 at another job in Georgia, and he will receive “about a 30 percent pay raise.” However, he declined to give other details.

Miller, 65, has more than 30 years of experience in the aeronautics industry. He came to Quincy after spending six months as an airfield manager for a U.S. Army installation in Copperas Cove, Texas. He previously served in airport administration at the ARCTEC Alaska Project headquarters in Anchorage, Alaska; Herat International Airport in Afghanistan; an Air Force base on Ascension Island in the middle of the south Atlantic Ocean (between Africa and South America); and at Muwaffaq Salti Air Base in Jordan.

Asked if he tried to meet with Troup about his concerns, Miller replied, “Oh, heavens no.” Asked why not, he replied, “Fear that I would be verbally thrashed. I don’t want to respond in anger. I don’t want to respond physically. So why put myself in a situation where either of those might arise?”

Asked if he spoke with Jeff Mays, director of administrative services, about his differences with Troup, Miller replied, “I went higher than Jeff. I talked to my wife. She said (to) find another position.”

Miller said he has tried to remain patient, but the situation involving his relationship with Troup is having a “negative impact” on his health.

“(People) know the public persona, which may not be an accurate representation of the person they’re actually voting for,” Miller said about Troup’s plan to run for re-election in the spring of 2025. “Unfortunately, in today’s political environment, some degree of that is expected, but I think what we’re seeing is an extreme example.

“My goal isn’t to bash Mike. However, I wish that people would be cognizant of the character of the person they’ve elected to be in charge. When you’ve made a mistake, don’t repeat it.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The figures for number of flights completed and passengers on Southern Airways flights in 2023 were incorrect in a previous version.

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