Danette Bewley

President & CEO

Tucson Airport Authority

By Tara Kirkpatrick

At a pivotal moment for the Tucson International Airport, as it emerges from the pandemic and embraces a new future with a new runway, a leader with aviation in her DNA is at the helm.

Danette Bewley, the daughter of a fighter pilot and a flight attendant, is taking the Tucson Airport Authority to new heights.

“Danette is from a fighter pilot family and that truly sums up who she is,” said Lisa Lovallo, chair of the TAA board of directors when Bewley was appointed CEO in 2019. “She is so focused and sharp as a whip, but also very caring about people.”

The airport, known as TUS, lost more than half its passenger traffic in 2020 because of COVID-19, but it used the time to enhance its safety profile, adding myriad touchless upgrades and sanitization procedures. That earned the airport a coveted Star Accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council.

“TUS was the fifth airport in the world to earn the coveted GBAC Star Accreditation,” Bewley said. “Because of the many successes, TUS is often called by other airports for guidance and assistance in touchless innovation and sanitation processes.”

“Also, I must mention the amazing relationship we have with the eight airline partners serving the Southern Arizona region. During the pandemic we struggled together, we supported each other, and we are stronger for it. Now, we are on a path to recovery of air service.”

The airport is poised to further bolster its safety profile with the addition of a new parallel runway. The complex project, which broke ground in October, demolishes a runway that was used only by general aviation aircraft and reconstructs it to Federal Aviation Administration standards to serve all types of aircraft. It also adds a center taxiway between the runways. 

“A project like this does not happen without close coordination and support by many stakeholders and federal and state agencies, who provide grant funding, and congressional representatives, who provide support,” she said.

Bewley’s focus continues to be on safety, security and customer service. After more than 32 years serving airports in regions such as Reno-Tahoe, Nev.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and San Diego, she is ready to make Tucson her final destination. 

 “I have lived and worked on both coasts and in different cities, and this is the region I plan to retire in.”

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