Liz Suarez, Director of Aviation for McAllen International Airport, has come full circle. Starting her career with the City of McAllen in the Department of Aviation in 2000, Suarez has completed the loop.

“I was given this opportunity primarily because I had a good level of experience on the ground transportation side in the transit department,” Suarez said. “The airport has transportation needs and trends specific to our region and our community. In addition, I have a vast understanding of federal regulations and guidelines and 13 plus years working with FTA, the sister organization to FAA.”

At the airport, again, in 2013 as Deputy Director, she was appointed Director in the spring of 2014.

“It’s been a fun ride. I love aviation. It has a whole different dynamic,” she said.

Taking on the aviation side of economic development, Suarez learned about the airfield and all involed in opperating an airport. With three key components – commercial air, cargo, and general aviation service – it’s a highly successful small commercial airport.

“The airport cannot do it alone,” Suarez said. “It requires a vast array of partnerships at the federal and state level, but most importantly, at the local level. Critical to our success is our FBO, Fixed Base Operator, McCreery Aviation, that handles fueling, maintenance, and hanger space for the 118 aircraft based here.”

The number one commercial service airport in the Rio Grande Valley, capturing 47% of the market share in 2018, and with over 40% of general aviation service, McAllen International Airport handles 60,000 landings and take-offs a year, as compared to Harlingen’s 25,000.

As the face of McAllen to the airline companies, Suarez uses those key opportunities to be a strong advocate for her community. 

“The airport is a 24-hour job,” Suarez concluded. “There’s always something going on and something to tend to, always an opportunity to serve. Anybody who needs anything, we’re available to them, 24/7.”