CVG CEO Candace McGraw gets contract extension and pay raise

Posted at 7:32 AM, Dec 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-01 07:32:06-05

HEBRON, Ky. -- The Kenton County Airport Board made moves this week to compensate its top official, a reflection of the airport's growth and success in 2017.

Candace McGraw, CEO at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport since 2011, received a two-year contract extension that will keep her at the helm until Dec. 31, 2023. The deal also included a pay raise and increase in incentive compensation.

The board, which oversees airport operations, made the move after meeting privately in executive session on Monday. McGraw's previous contract expired on Dec. 31, 2021.

CVG CEO Candace McGraw

"The board would like to reaffirm our confidence in Candace…in (her) leadership at CVG," said Chad Summe, who chairs the board's Executive Compensation Talent Management committee, which, in part, is tasked with leading the CEO review. "Her incredible results exceeded all our expectations."

McGraw will receive a 6.667 percent increase in base salary, "to align with current market conditions," Summe said, bumping her pay from $300,000 to $320,010, effective Jan. 1, 2018.

It's the third consecutive year the board has issued a raise.

It also voted to increase McGraw's annual incentive compensation to an amount not to exceed 15 percent of her base salary in 2018. That means she could receive as much as $48,000 for meeting performance objectives next year.

Officials at Pittsburgh International Airport, which handles a similar number of originating U.S. passengers, bumped its CEO Christina Cassotis's base pay to $325,208 earlier this year. She's also eligible for a retention bonus of up to 15 percent.

"I believe this puts (McGraw) in the right percentile with other mid-sized airports," Summe said.

McGraw's performance is largely measured across three metrics: growth in air service, operational excellence, and fiscal responsibility.

Air service is arguably the most recognizable: To date, CVG has increased seat capacity by 18 percent in 2017. The airport announced one new carrier this year, WOW air, which will offer low-cost international flights to Europe -- via Iceland -- starting in May 2018. Southwest Airlines launched in June, and further growth is expected. Frontier and Allegiant continue to add new city pairs.

In fact, all carriers are experiencing double-digit growth at CVG in 2017, McGraw said. And average ticket prices continued to decline. Customers are paying about $200 less per roundtrip than four years ago.

In January, CVG inked a major lease with Amazon for a new $1.5 billion air cargo hub. The company says it should have phase one complete by the end of 2020.

Personally, McGraw was a recipient of the Lincoln Award from Northern Kentucky University, which honors community leaders for their vision, compassion and commitment to philanthropy, as well as the Nelson Schwab Jr. Distinguished Leadership Award from the Cincinnati Chamber. She was tapped as chair of Airports Council International-North America and will serve as the first two-year chair in the organization’s 70-year history.

In a bi-annual employee survey, CVG scored an average of 3.8 of 5.0, its highest score of three past surveys. According to consultants, McGraw said, anything above 3.7 is considered "highest tier."

CVG also completed its annual Federal Aviation Administration certification inspection and annual TSA security inspection with no exceptions.

In addition to McGraw's pay raise, the Kenton County Airport Board appointed its slate of officers for 2018. Mike Schlotman, chief financial officer at Kroger, was reappointed chair. Vice chair is Paul Verst, president and CEO at Verst Group Logistics. The appointments are also effective Jan. 1.