Wilson will replace William F. “Bill” Marrison, who is retiring on December 31, 2018, after 36 years of service to the organization.
MKAA runs McGhee Tyson Airport and Downtown Island Airport in Knoxville.
In an email, Tri-Cities Airport Authority Chairman Jon Smith said he was not informed until Friday morning that Wilson had accepted the job.
Wilson’s exit comes at a time when Tri-Cities Airport and its partners — Northeast Tennessee cities and counties — will be responsible for paying off about $8.5 million in bonds related to Aerospace Park development. A groundbreaking for the grading portion of the project is slated for October 4.
This the second time Wilson has left Tri-Cities Airport. In early 2013, he resigned to take a deputy director’s position at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, but he returned to his old job in July 2013. During Wilson’s absence, Director of Operations David Jones served as interim director.
With more than 25 years of aviation experience, Wilson was previously operations manager at MKAA, where he gained a strong understanding of the inner workings of McGhee Tyson Airport.
Wilson graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a master of business in aviation and received a bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned the Accredited Airport Executive designation from the American Association of Airport Executives.
Since 2015, he has served as the president of the Tennessee Association of Air Carrier Airports and serves on the University of Tennessee’s Aerospace and Defense Advisory Board.
“I am honored to have been selected to serve as the next president of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority,” Wilson said in a news release. “I hope to contribute to and build upon the strong aviation foundation that exists at both McGhee Tyson and Downtown Island Airports by recruiting air service, creating new jobs and investing in the people who work at and visit the airports.”
On Wilson’s watch, Tri-Cities Airport has not successfully recruited a new airline outside of its three core carriers in more than five years.