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Former Allegheny County Airport Authority chief getting $134,000 severance

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 12:33 p.m.

The Allegheny County Airport Authority's decision to oust President Brad Penrod will cost the agency $134,375 in severance pay, plus medical benefits and perhaps early pension payments, officials disclosed Tuesday.

The authority will pay for Penrod's medical benefits for 18 months. The authority provided a copy of Penrod's separation agreement to the Tribune-Review following an open records request.

The authority board forced out Penrod, 53, of North Fayette last month amid a push from County Executive Rich Fitzgerald for more flights to and from the airport. Penrod made $214,465 annually. The board appointed James Gill as interim executive director. Gill, 46, of Moon was executive vice president.

Penrod declined to comment. He became CEO in 2007 after working in a number of operations roles beginning in 1983.

The agreement, which Penrod and board president David Minnotte signed, states that Penrod “is being let go through no fault of his own.” Penrod agreed not to sue. Minnotte couldn't be reached for comment. Other board members could not be reached for comment or declined to comment.

Both sides agreed not to make disparaging comments about the other.

“Does something like that (severance) shock me? Not really, I guess,” said William Lauer, an airline industry analyst who chairs Allegheny Capital Management Inc. in Downtown. “Whatever successes or failures can be ascribed to the airport over the last 10 to 12 years, perhaps it's unfair to rivet that onto one individual.”

Penrod's employment contract called for six months of severance but the authority will pay him about 712 months worth of his salary.

Authority board treasurer Dennis Davin, who heads the county's economic development department, said the additional amount was negotiated in exchange for Penrod agreeing to the contract terms.

“That's what we agreed to and negotiated,” Davin said.

Penrod got more than the amount Port Authority paid former CEO Steve Bland upon his firing in February 2013. His contract ensured him a $92,500 severance, half his annual salary.

The “no fault” portion of the separation agreement aims to make Penrod eligible to collect his pension immediately.

Pensions, which the county's retirement board must approve, are based on salary and years of service. Penrod's hasn't been calculated because he hasn't applied for his benefits yet, said Tim Johnson, executive director of the retirement board.

Typically, county employees are eligible to collect their full pensions at age 60 or to collect 70 percent at 55. No-fault terminations allow employees to collect pensions earlier.

If Penrod applied for his pension now and the retirement board agreed with the Airport Authority's no-fault assessment, Penrod could begin collecting 70 percent of his pension immediately, Johnson said.

Pittsburgh International Airport has been losing passengers since US Airways eliminated its hub there a decade ago. The airport last year posted its lowest annual passenger total since opening in 1992, according to airport data. Pittsburgh has an average of about 150 daily flights to 36 destinations — down from 600-plus flights to 110 destinations in the early 2000s.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or




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