County: new airport director brings solid experience

New Canyonlands Field Airport Director Andrew “Andy” Solsvig attends his first board meeting Monday, Jan. 6. Photo by Doug McMurdo

The Grand County Council knew it was going to have to dig deep to find a replacement for former Canyonlands Field Airport Director Judd Hill, who oversaw fairly dramatic growth during his five years in Moab before stepping down in December to take a consulting job.

The council approved a significant step increase for the director’s position – roughly $80,000 a year – before embarking on a nationwide search.

They believe they found what they were looking for in Andrew “Andy” Solsvig, who attended his first Airport Board meeting Monday, Jan. 6. Grand County Administrator Ruth Dillon at that meeting introduced Solsvig. She updated board members on Solsvig’s resume, which went a long way in explaining why he was chosen out of dozens of applicants.

Solsvig has spent his entire adult life in the aviation industry after graduating with honors from the University of North Dakota for Aviation, double-majoring in Airport Business and Business Management.

He spent the past three years at the Eagle-Vail Regional Airport in Eagle County, Colorado, where he was the assistant airport director and operations manager.

In addition to his double major, Solsvig holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix-Reno and is working on earning an accredited airport executive designation from the American Association of Airport Executives.

The native of Minneapolis has been in the industry for more than two decades, beginning in college when he was a ramp agent for Mesaba, a regional carrier for Northwest Airlines. He then interned at Grand Forks and Phoenix Sky Harbor international airports.

Dillon noted Solsvig worked as an airport planner and marketing coordinator for eight years at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport before spending nearly seven years as the director of the Minot International Airport in North Dakota, where he oversaw dramatic expansion of a new terminal building, apron and parking lot and successfully lobbied North Dakota lawmakers for $25 million to fund projects.

The rapid growth was brought on by the North Dakota oil boom, he said.

In 2012 he earned a Top 40 Under 40 designation by Airport Business Magazine – back when he was under 40, Dillon quipped.

He was introduced again at Tuesday’s Grand County Council meeting. He said he and his team “want to take the airport to the next level. I think I can make a positive change here.”