The Fort Smith Regional Airport’s new director is a familiar face on the tarmac and among the state’s airport operators.

Following a nationwide search, Michael Griffin was recently chosen to lead the airport. John Parker retired as airport director March 31 after 20 years at the airport and Griffin served as interim director since then while continuing duties as director of operations.

Griffin has been with the airport for 10 years. For most of that time, he has been the director of operations. He also serves as president of the Arkansas Airport Operator’s Association.

“The public can be assured the best candidate was chosen,” said Airport Commissioner Mac McGhee. “It’s a good testament for Michael that he can compete with anyone in the country.”

McGhee, who has served on the commission since August 2011, also noted it was a unanimous decision among the seven commissioners. There were about 25 applicants for the position through ADK Executive Search, a firm specializing exclusively in searches for the aviation industry. The firm vetted applicants and suggested nine. Five applicants, including Griffin, were interviewed Monday.

“They were all very strong candidates with a lot of experience,” McGhee added.

Airport Commissioner Jan Nordin has been on the governing body since March 2009.

“Michael was our top applicant,” Nordin said. “He won hands down. We didn’t play favorites.”

Nordin pointed out Griffin’s experience in federal grant applications as being a necessary skill for the job and something that not all of the applicants had experience doing.

“He was lock-step with John Parker, and has a plethora of experience,” Nordin said. “He’s also just very bright.”

Griffin has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from John Brown University and is a certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives. He will be responsible for the daily operation and long-range development of the airport.

Griffin said in an email that his immediate goals are the construction of a new fire station and to market the available airport-owned property along Phoenix Avenue for development. That includes getting a new land appraisal. It has been about five years since the last land appraisal of airport property on Phoenix Avenue was done, McGheen and Nordin both said.

Filling Griffin’s vacated director of operations seat is also now on the commission’s agenda.