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Departure time for airport terminals manager

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He has dealt with everything from an airport inundated with diverted transatlantic flights on 9/11 to a palm tree at an airline check-in desk.

Now it is departure time for Mike Osborn, the man who has been in charge of the terminals at LF Wade International Airport for the past 17 years.

Having reached 60 he has retired, but before jetting off to England he reflected on his time in the job including the experience of being the man in charge of the airport on 9/11 and dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Fabian in 2003.

Mr Osborn became terminals manager in 1996 as Bermuda assumed responsibility for airport operations from the departing US Navy. Part of his role has been to develop revenue streams for the airport by introducing concessions such as food outlets and duty free shops.

“We also work with service providers to enhance the ‘passenger experience’. A lot of it is to do with aesthetics. During my time computing has evolved and we worked with airlines to assist them install [computerised] kiosks,” he said.

“One of the most enjoyable parts of the job was not being stuck in an office all day, but being able to walk around the airport and meeting the really great people working there.”

When terrorists hijacked passenger jets on September 11, 2001 and brought terror to New York City and Washington DC, North America’s airspace was quickly closed to all commercial air traffic. Many international flights all ready flying across the North Atlantic en route to the US were diverted to Bermuda.

Mr Osborn was the acting airport manager that day. His previous experience working at airports in 40 different countries, including working in Beirut as civil war broke out and in Iran during the 1979 revolution, served him well as he was called upon to deal with an unprecedented turn of events.

Remembering that day, he said: “I had some colleagues who helped enormously and made sure things ran as smoothly as could be hoped. It was a unique and continually evolving scenario. We persuaded the European airlines to refuel and turn back to Europe.”

Passengers on flights from North America were found hotel accommodation. Mr Osborn said: “The airlines did a very good job of organising their passengers. My role was more about co-ordinating between the EMO [Emergency Measures Organisation] and the other airport entities.”

Two years later there was further drama to deal with when Fabian struck the Island as a Category 3 hurricane.

The airport sustained damage to its roof and the departures concourse was flooded. “The flood waters came in through the doors and even deposited a palm tree in the US Airways check-in area,” he said.

A major post-hurricane clean-up operation was required. “We were helped by the Regiment and others, who did a great job cleaning up.”

Mr Osborn’s links to Bermuda go back a long way. His grandfather came to the Island in 1927 and worked as a steward on the

Queen of Bermuda ocean liner before working for the Bermuda government, while his grandmother was a teacher at Warwick Academy. His father Geoffrey was awarded the George Medal for bravery after pulling four colleagues from the burning wreckage of a crashed British bomber aircraft during the Second World War.

Mr Osborn Sr went on to work for Pan-Am at Bermuda’s civil airport before moving to England to train as an air traffic controller. The family moved to a number of countries as Mr Osborn’s father gained experience in his new role. Mr Osborn was born while the family was based in North Rhodesia (now Zambia).

The family returned to Bermuda in 1965, with Mr Osborn Sr becoming the Island’s Assistant Director of Aviation. In time his son followed his footsteps into the aviation industry, although as a teenager he worked as a ‘pool boy’ at a number of the Island’s hotels before joining the BOAC airline (which became British Airways). He travelled the world with postings in 40 countries before returning to Bermuda to fill the airport terminals manager role.

Away from his work, Mr Osborn is one of the Island’s most instantly recognisable road runners. He took up the sport in 1998, running in the Butterfield & Vallis 5K event and finding himself unable to keep up with a friend.

“I realised my fitness was not what I desired,” he said. He joined the Mid Atlantic Athletic Club. “There is great camaraderie within the running community and I have had the added bonus of having a great training partner, Rosa Peichoto, for the last 14 years.”

Bermuda and the Island’s road running scene are things Mr Osborn will miss when he and his wife Debbie relocate to Sussex, England next week. However, the retirement move does mean they will be closer to their grandchildren. The couple also intend to make regular trips back to Bermuda particularly during the winter months.

“We are sad to be saying goodbye to friends and the lovely weather. Of all the countries I’ve worked in, Bermuda is my favourite. When people overseas hear that you work in Bermuda they always remark how lucky you are and that is something I totally agree with,” he said.

Photo David Skinner Planes grounded at Bermuda airport on September 11, 2001. Mike Osborn was the acting airport manager that day and remembers the drama that unfolded. The LF Wade International Airport's terminals manager retired last week and is about to relocate to England.
Mike Osborn was terminals manager at LF Wade International Airport for 17 years. He retired this month.
Mike Osborn, right, runs with training partner Rosa Peichoto during the May 24 Half Marathon in 2004. Mr Osborn is one of the Island's most recognisable road runners after taking up the sport in 1998.
Mike Osborn during an airport exercise. Mr Osborn was terminals manager at LF Wade International Airport for 17 years. He retired this month.
Mike Osborn, who has retired as terminals manager at LF Wade International Airport, pictured with his wife Debbie.
As a teenager Mike Osborn worked as a 'pool boy' at various hotels on the Island.

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Published April 05, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 05, 2013 at 9:09 am)

Departure time for airport terminals manager

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