The staff and administration with the McGhee Tyson Airport threw a holiday party Dec. 16, but their celebration began before the party ever kicked off.
Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority president Bill Marrison was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the American Association of Airport Executives in a brief ceremony before the Wednesday afternoon party.
“This is a significant award in the aviation industry and is based on decades of service not only to the local aviation community but on the national and international platform and is the only award AAAE gives for service to the industry and the community,” said Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority director of public relations Becky Huckaby.
The annual party is a way for the airport authority personnel to celebrate their successes with community leaders, said Huckaby. “It’s a way for the airport to get together with everyone who contributed to the success of the airport over the course of the year and recognize all the accomplishments we were able to hit,” she said. “It is an opportunity to connect with everyone who makes a difference with the airport.”
Marrison’s award in part recognizes 28 years of service to date.
“Bill’s numerous and significant contributions to the airport community at the local and national levels make him an ideal recipient of the AAAE Distinguished Service Award,” said AAAE chair James Bennett. “AAAE’s foundation is strengthened through the tireless efforts of dedicated volunteer members like Bill. We’re pleased to recognize his four-plus decades of service to our industry with this award.”
Marrison, a 28-year veteran of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority received the award for his accomplishments in leadership in aviation as well as in his community.
Marrison has been a strong spokesperson for aviation and transportation issues on both a national and international platform while continuing to be instrumental in the planning, funding and construction of transportation infrastructure in East Tennessee, Airport Authority personnel said.
“I am honored to receive this prestigious award and feel privileged to join the list of distinguished aviation professionals who have been recognized before me,” said Marrison. “Because of my passion for flight and my love of my region, I work very hard to acquire the resources necessary to make our airport system successful.”
Marrison said he considers the award as recognition for everyone at the airport. “I think of it as recognition of the hard work of all the employees and the excellent job they do that makes my job easy.”
Upon graduating from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in 1969, Marrison began his career in airport management and operations at the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority and the Jackson Madison County Airport Authority before being named president of the MKAA. He has served as president of the Tennessee Association of Air Carrier Airports (TAACA) and Immediate-past President of the Southeast Chapter of AAAE. He has also served a past chairman of the National Safe Skies Alliance which tests emerging airport security technologies for the Department of Homeland Security.
Marrison said the airport has changed dramatically in 30 years with a different runway layout, a parking garage, a more structured work environment and many more direct flights.
“When I came in 1982, our direct flights were to Atlanta and a couple other destinations and now we have 22 direct, non-stop flights,” he said. “In the future we would like to attract more low-fare destinations for the business traveler.”