Thomas ‘T.J.’ Henderson is the new assistant director of airports of Monroe County. He will be based at the Marathon Airport.

Thomas “T.J.” Henderson has a bachelors degree in aviation management from Auburn University and a masters in business administration from Pepperdine. Plus, he has 11 years of experience as an airports operations director at two airports — Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport in Texas and John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California.

Henderson, 34, is now the assistant director of airports for Monroe County. The bulk of his job will be overseeing the Marathon Airport at a critical point in the facility’s expansion.

“I see a lot of growth in the community, and I think we are going to see traffic increase at the airport, too,” he said. “With the completion of the new customs facility, I think we are going to become a popular spot for planes from Central and South America to clear customs and refuel before continuing on to other destinations in the United State.”

Plus, it’s quite possible the air traffic could be headed south, too.

“It’s an interesting time to be in Marathon with the improved diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba,” he said, adding that air service to the island nation may happen sooner rather than later.

Henderson also has experience on the private side of the industry. Part of his masters in business administration entailed developing a marketing strategy for Hawker Beechcraft jets to gain a larger market share and grow the customer base. In Marathon, Henderson said part of his job will be to promote the airport at trade shows and bring more business to the facility. Henderson has experience with airport expansion, including the construction of new terminals and managing big capital improvement projects, as well as formulating emergency plans and participating in numerous safety drills.

“Plus, I will spend part of my time at the Key West Airport helping Director of Airports Don DeGraw,” he said.

Although Henderson has a pilot’s license with an instrument rating, he said finds airport management more fulfilling in terms of career opportunities.

The Indiana native is thrilled to be in the Keys and looks forward to taking up fishing and scuba diving. His first purchase? A kayak.

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