Peninsula Airport Commission fires PHF executive director

Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (PHF)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Ken Spirito is out as executive director of the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.

The Peninsula Airport Commission fired Spirito Monday following a three-hour closed session meeting.

Kenneth Spirito Termination Letter

Spirito was placed on administrative leave in March, following a closed session meeting — which also resulted in the firing of the commission’s contracted attorney, Herbert Kelly.

The shakeup — which also included now former Newport News City Manager Jim Bourey — came as PHF was in the midst of a state audit over financing.

Sharon Scott, Newport News Councilwoman and commission member, told 10 On Your Side’s Joe Fisher Monday that Spirito was let go for “violations of policy.”

State funds were pulled from the airport in January after officials claimed millions of dollars in funds were misused.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne said the commission used funds to pay back a loan to Towne Bank. The commission had guaranteed a loan of around $3.5 million to People Express Airlines, Inc.

Spirito told Newport News City Council in February that he stands by the decision to use the $3.5 million in state funds.

Scott said Monday the firing of Spirito is not related to the loan controversy.

“There were so many other things that were more egregious that we didn’t have to wait for the audit to be complete,” Scott said.

The Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and the Office of the State Inspector General have been looking into the airport’s finances since January.

“We have to be proactive about this,” said Scott. “This is like a big cloud over our head, and we can’t afford to wait for the audit to go ahead and start taking certain actions.”

This is a developing news story. Stay with WAVY for updates.