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Kelowna airport director elected as chair of Airports Council International

The news was announced on Tuesday, Jan. 4, with YLW director Sam Samaddar, above, replacing outgoing chair Lew S. Bleiweis, the executive director of the Greater Asheville, N.C., Reginal Airport Authority. City of Kelowna

The director for Kelowna International Airport added a lofty title to his resume this week.

On New Year’s Day, Sam Samaddar was elected as the North American chairperson for Airports Council International (ACI), a large organization that represents the interests of many airports around the world.

According to ACI, the organization has more than 700 members and operates in 1,933 airports in 183 countries.

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The news was announced on Tuesday, Jan. 4, with Samaddar replacing outgoing chair Lew S. Bleiweis, the executive director of the Greater Asheville, N.C., Reginal Airport Authority.

On Jan. 2, 2020, Bleiweis replaced outgoing chair Candace McGraw, CEO of Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky International Airport.

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“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, North American airports have continued to provide essential services to passengers, workers, and local communities while also ensuring their health and safety, and Lew has been at the forefront of guiding our industry during these challenge times,” said ACI-NA president and CEO Kevin Burke.

“As we continue to respond to a rapidly evolving future for our industry, I have no doubt that Sam’s experience and leadership will help ACI-NA and all of our airports navigate the unique challenges we’ve encountered in recent years and keep our industry moving forward.”

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Samaddar is a well-known figure in the Okanagan, having done countless media interviews on behalf of Kelowna International Airport (YLW).

“Our industry’s recovery is underway, but a clear path forward remains elusive as we continue to navigate the challenges presented by an ongoing pandemic,” said Samaddar.

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“But, our industry is proactive and resilient, so I am confident our brightest days are ahead.  I look forward to representing this innovative industry and working alongside my colleagues to advance key priorities over the next two years.”

The City of Kelowna says Samaddar began working at Vancouver International Airport in 1988 before transferring to YLW in 1992. In 2008, he was appointed airport director.

He’s also a board member at Tourism Kelowna and Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission.

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“We are very proud to have Sam in this position as the first-ever tier-two airport and only the second Canadian to be named Chair of ACI-NA,” said City of Kelowna manager Doug Gilchrist.

“This is a huge accomplishment that showcases the leadership of YLW throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing industry recovery,.

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“Sam’s appointment will also help to highlight, not only the entire Okanagan region, but how YLW is an economic, business and tourism gateway to western Canada and the U.S.A.”

A complete list of the ACI-NA board of directors and leadership is available on the ACI-NA website.

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