Sugar Land Regional Airport names terminal after former director
Sugar Land City Council recently named the terminal at Sugar Land Regional Airport after former Director of Aviation Phillip W. Savko.
Prior to his death, Savko served 21 years as the city’s aviation director. One of his proudest accomplishments was the construction of a new 20,000 square foot terminal that set a new standard in the corporate aviation industry.
“Phil wanted to make sure every person walking in the building knew they were in Texas and received a warm welcome,” said Director of Aviation Elizabeth Rosenbaum. “As a result, many airports look to Sugar Land Regional Airport to try and emulate our accomplishments, which is one reason our airport sets the standard today for corporate aviation travelers.”
Savko led an unprecedented expansion of the facility that resulted in the airport’s frequent recognition by aviation professionals as one of the top corporate facilities in the world.
His visionary leadership included the first-ever airport business plan in 1999 that outlined plans for the airport’s role as a corporate business executive airport supporting the local community’s needs for general aviation. Savko’s airport business plan resulted in $112.6 million of airport improvements, including a state-of-the-art air traffic control tower and SLRA’s inclusion in the Contract Tower Program in 2001. Sugar Land Regional Airport was the first in Texas to be included in this program.
During the course of the next two decades, Savko executed a plan that transformed the airport from a grassy field to an economic powerhouse that now attracts international travelers and businesses by offering state-of-the-art amenities and concierge services. The plan outlined capital improvements largely funded through federal and state grants, revenue-generating facilities, corporate lease site development and other airport services.
He was also responsible for a new U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility that opened up international traffic to the community. In a recent Texas Aviation Economic Impact Study, it was reported that Sugar Land Regional Airport supports the local economy through 692 jobs and $32.5 million in wages and benefits with an economic output of $93 million.
Through professional relationships, Savko completed several projects with cooperative efforts of multiple agencies, including the state of Texas, the Federal government, engineers, architects and private-sector professionals. One of his greatest accomplishments was securing more than $100 million in grant funding for airport improvement projects. This could only be accomplished through his continuous efforts with the Texas Department of Transportation Aviation Division; the Federal Aviation Administration; city management; and elected leaders at the local, state and national levels.
Savko led the construction of a corporate hangar, a new General Aviation complex with 99-T-hangars which is the only GA airport in Texas with taxiway bridges over water, and he was responsible for the development of two new taxi lanes for Corporate Aviation Development.
Other accomplishments included:
- • renaming “Sugar Land Municipal Airport” to “Sugar Land Regional Airport” in 2002;
- • establishment of the GlobalSelect Fixed Based Operator brand in 2010;
- • new corporate lease sites;
- • operation of the airport as a self-sustaining enterprise with no subsidy from ad-valorem taxes; and
- • ongoing relocation of a parallel taxiway -- the most recent phase finished in 2019.
“Phil had a long history of exceptional leadership, vision and service that will benefit our community long into the future,” said Rosenbaum. “His passion for aviation and our community was infectious and continues to provide a standard for all of us. Phil’s legacy speaks for itself and goes far beyond what a list of accomplishments can capture.”