HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Huntsville announced he will be retiring at the end of the year and his deputy director will take his place.

Rick Tucker has announced his retirement as the CEO of the international transportation and business hub which includes the Huntsville International Airport, International Intermodal Center and Jetplex Industrial Park. He will be retiring on December 31, 2022.

Luther “Butch” Roberts the Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Director has been announced as his replacement.

“I want to express sincere appreciation on behalf of the HMCAA Board to Rick for his decades of constant, professional, focused leadership and visionary contributions to the Port of Huntsville and to our community,” said Mark McDaniel, Chairman of the Port of Huntsville Board of Directors. “Under his tenure, the airport, cargo operations and industrial park have expanded beyond our hopes and dreams to bring jobs and prosperity to Huntsville and to indelibly link the Port of Huntsville to the world.”

Under Tucker, a new 219-foot air traffic control tower was built, a five-year capital improvement project finished in 2012 included a new security screening checkpoint and public waiting area on the second floor, also the west runway was extended to 12,600 feet making it the second-longest in the southeast.

He also oversaw the growth of the International Intermodal Center including 200,000 square feet of air cargo facilities and the Jetplex Industrial Park. He has been recognized with several awards throughout his career including the 2021 Airport Director of the Year, Small Airports Division by Airport Experience New.

In the announcement of his retirement, Tucker said, “When I started at the airport 44 years ago, I could not have imagined spending my entire career with just one employer… I have tremendous confidence in our team to achieve even greater success under the leadership of Butch Roberts. He is the right person at the right time!”

Roberts has served as COO/Deputy Director since 1996, with 36 years in the aviation industry. A graduate of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, he started his career at the Huntsville Madison County Airport Authority.

“I look forward to continuing the work of implementing our Master Plan to grow the airport, intermodal center and industrial park to meet the needs of industry and commerce in our service area,” Roberts said. “We have already begun a new air cargo expansion and have applied for a license to land the DreamChaser commercial space vehicle here at HSV. With our upcoming terminal and concourse upgrades in the final planning stages, there is a lot to be excited about as we see air travel returning post-pandemic and our region’s economy prospering.”

Roberts will assume his new role as CEO for the Port of Huntsville starting July 1, 2022, with Tucker working as CEO Emeritus until his last day in December.