Spotlight: 9/11 shaped Tony Cugno's focus

Jacksonville Business Journal by Jennifer Ferry, Editorial Intern
July 27, 2012

Tony Cugno, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority's new chief operating officer, said the 9/11 tragedy shaped him professionally and changed his management focus.

"It instilled in me a sense of responsibility for running a safe airport," Cugno said.

He has to make sure JAA's airports meet the needs of the traveling public from a safety standpoint and to position the airports to be self-sustaining.

As COO, Cugno is responsible for the day-to-day operations and managerial activities at Jacksonville International Airport, Jacksonville Executive Airport at Craig and Herlong Recreational Airport. Other responsibilities include customer service and planning development and engineering.

"Airports are under a constant state of construction, so we always have long-term planning processes that we go through to meet the operational needs of the airport today and down the road," Cugno said. "It keeps me busy."

Cugno has been working for the aviation authority since 2002. He worked his way through the ranks, his previous position being director of aviation management.

The organization was in a transition when the opportunity arose for him to apply for the COO position. He looks forward to the challenges that come with the new position.

"Our industry is so specialized and small that positions at this level don't come up very often, so when they do, you hope you're well-positioned and well-experienced for it," Cugno said.

One of his many goals is to expand the air service portfolio. JAA already operates four airports. Cugno wants to see it continue to be an economic driver for Jacksonville, complementing job creation and economic prosperity.

Cugno likes that he gets to work with really passionate people. The employees truly love what they do, he said, and their passion for aviation and passion for service to the community rub off on others.

"People who work in aviation, they're enthusiasts," Cugno said. "That enthusiasm is very infectious."

He came to Jacksonville from Cary, N.C., to study at Jacksonville University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in aviation management and an MBA.

Cugno enjoys spending time with his wife and 5-year-old daughter. He said his daughter keeps him very busy.

"She helps to put my life in perspective."


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