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Philadelphia Airport Head Departs To Lead Region's Chamber Of Commerce

Philadelphia International Airport, with the city's skyline far in the background, seen in 2018.

A change in leadership is on tap for one of the Philadelphia economy's most crucial components.

Rochelle "Chellie" Cameron is stepping down as CEO of the entity that oversees the Philadelphia International Airport, effective June 24, the city of Philadelphia announced on Thursday. After six years in the top job for the city of Philadelphia's Division of Aviation, which oversees PHL and the Northeast Philadelphia Airport, Cameron will take the same title for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.

In her tenure as CEO, Cameron saw PHL set an all-time high for passenger travel in 2019, the same year that air carriers launched a collective $900M worth of privately funded infrastructure and terminal improvements, before the pandemic slashed travel worldwide. Cameron in a budget hearing last month said PHL had recovered to about 75% of pre-pandemic traffic levels, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports

Division of Aviation Chief Operating Officer Keith Brune will serve as interim CEO for the agency until his retirement at the end of 2023. A nationwide search for a permanent replacement will be led by search firm Korn Ferry, the Inquirer reports. Brune and his eventual replacement will be taking up the mantle of an ambitious expansion into cargo and air freight that began in 2018 and is set to pick up steam in the next few years.

PHL is repurposing some of the parking lots on the airport's land and an adjacent plot of land it purchased in 2018 to support more than 1M SF worth of distribution centers. The Division of Aviation expects them to generate $1B in annual economic impact when complete, the Inquirer reports.

Brune also takes over for Cameron as PHL re-evaluates its overall parking needs for the first time in decades. Under Cameron's leadership, the airport paid off the $54M balance of bonds it owed to the Philadelphia Parking Authority in January, taking control of its parking structures and launching a search for a new permanent operator, the Inquirer reports.

Cameron will replace former Republican state Sen. Rob Wonderling as CEO for the region's chamber of commerce, the business organization that boasts local luminaries like Drexel University President John Fry, former Liberty Property Trust CEO Bill Hankowsky and Philadelphia Eagles President Don Smolenski as board members.