News Flash

Archive 2 - 2019 News Releases

Posted on: December 16, 2019

Savko Leaves Lasting Legacy for Future Generations

Photo of Phil Savko

Sugar Land, TX – Long-time Director of Aviation Phillip W. Savko, 63, recently died after complications from a prolonged illness.

Savko was a 21-year veteran of the Sugar Land Regional Airport.  He 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. 

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. Accomplishments include: 

  • the addition of an Air Traffic Control Tower in 2001 with state-of-the-art radar and weather reporting software;
  • renaming “Sugar Land Municipal Airport” to “Sugar Land Regional Airport” in 2002;
  • the opening of a new 20,000 square-foot terminal in 2006;
  • completion of a new general aviation complex in 2009 that included 99 new T-hangars and the only general aviation airport in Texas with taxiway bridges over water;
  • establishment of the GlobalSelect FBO brand in 2010;
  • the addition of on-site U.S. Customs;
  • new corporate lease sites;
  • the airport’s inclusion in the Contract Towers Program in 2001 (the first in Texas to be included in the program); and
  • ongoing relocation of a parallel taxiway -- the most recent phase finished in 2019.

“We are all mourning the loss of Phil, and there really are no words to fully capture what Phil has meant to our organization and our community,” said City Manager Allen Bogard. “From the beginning, Phil saw a vision for the airport and worked tirelessly to not only grow the airport, but to also leave a lasting impression. His attention to detail and commitment to excellence for the airport was the driving force behind every enhancement and accomplishment.”

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 $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.

A recent Texas Aviation Economic Impact Study reported that Sugar Land Regional Airport supports the local economy through 692 jobs and $32.5 million in wages and benefits. The economic output generated is $93 million.

Under Savko’s leadership, the airport:

  • became a major economic development asset supporting Sugar Land, Fort Bend County and the entire Houston region – minimizing “chair to air” travel time for corporate executives and being cited as a factor in site selection decisions by companies selecting the Sugar Land area as their headquarters location;
  • attracted use by more than 100 Fortune 500 companies on a regular basis;
  • played a major role in regional air traffic accommodations during Super Bowls XXXVIII and LI in 2004 and 2017;
  • earned the designation as the “reliever airport” for George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Hobby airports in Houston -- reducing corporate and general aviation traffic at Bush Intercontinental and allowing Hobby to further concentrate on commercial air travel; and
  • operated as a self-sustaining enterprise with no subsidy from ad-valorem taxes.

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Savko is survived by his brother Randy Savko and two sisters, Sue Morotto and Amy Filakovsky, as well as multiple nieces, nephews and grand-nieces.

“Phil’s legacy speaks for itself and goes far beyond what a list of accomplishments can capture,” said Bogard. “There is no doubt that he changed our community for the better, and his legacy will be recognized and remembered not just today, but always. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Phil’s brother Randy, his entire family and all of the Sugar Land Regional Airport employees who truly lost a family member.”

The city is planning to formally recognize and honor Savko’s legacy at the Sugar Land Regional Airport at the appropriate time in the future.  Details on such a recognition will be announced and shared publicly at that time.

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