Kimberly Becker, the new president and CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority announced Monday it has hired a new president and CEO from a similar but smaller California airport, Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Kimberly J. Becker, who has risen through the ranks at the Silicon Valley airport since 1995, will start work in San Diego on May 1. Her salary will be $280,000.

“I’m absolutely honored to be part of this organization,” she said. “I find the similarities between San Jose and San Diego pretty stunning.”

Becker, 53, will be the authority’s second president. She called her predecessor Thella Bowens, who will retire March 31 after nearly 21 years, “an incredible, remarkable leader” and praised the airport’s strategic plan.

“Succeeding her allows me to leverage all that I have done in San Jose and to build on a very solid foundation,” Becker said.

San Diego is the nation’s busiest single-runway airport and last year saw total passenger volume increase to a record 20 million.

Becker will join the Airport Authority as it is aggressively adding new nonstop air service, building a new Customs and Border Protection facility to accommodate rapid growth of international arrivals, and planning the replacement of 50-year-old Terminal 1.

Airport Authority Board Chair April Boling said Becker was chosen following input from local business and community leaders and an extensive industry search.

“We are delighted to have recruited Kim, whose proven leadership capabilities and collaborative style will allow our agile, high-performing team to take SAN to the next level,” Boling said.

Becker has also worked at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport. She earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.