By Hayley Salem
Damian Brooke, Vice President of Business Planning and IT at Tampa International Airport, has had a passion for the travel industry since he was a young boy in England.
“Being from the UK, family vacations were not just going to the next state over. We would travel to other European countries even for just the weekend. I wanted to see the world,” he says.
To this day, low cost carriers in Europe make international travel highly affordable. “Travel agents still offer last-minute vacation deals where you can get a week’s hotel and airfare for $150,” he says. “You just need to be willing to leave tomorrow and be a little flexible. We used to do that all the time when I was a kid.”
Brooke, 45, has traveled to 67 countries. Sudan stood out the most to him.
“I got to experience the Sudanese culture firsthand with dinner cooked outside on an oil drum in the desert,” he says. But he liked Brazil and Thailand the most.
Brooke spent three years in Brazil working as part of a team that did a corporate turnaround of TAM, the leading carrier of Brazil.
“Thailand was also remarkable in its scenery, with the island being especially beautiful,” he says.
Brooke lived in Manchester, England until he was 12 years old and his family moved to the United States.
He earned his bachelor’s degree at Connecticut State University where he majored in geography and minored in history. Following graduation, he devoted his work exclusively to aviation.
“I’m what you call an aviation junkie,” he says.
He worked at American Airlines as a Senior Analyst of International Alliance Planning and Assistant Manager of Regulatory Affairs for a combined three years, followed by two years working as a Planning Manager for Qatar Airways in the Middle East.
He then moved to Texas where he was a partner in the consulting firm, Sabre Airline Solutions.
Brooke then took a planning job at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, where he worked with Chris Minner, TPA’s vice president of marketing, and Joe Lopano, TPA’s current CEO.
Brooke joined the TPA team a little over a year ago.
“We have the unique opportunity here to take an already great airport and really take it to the next level,” he says. He oversees Concessions, Commercial Real Estate Development, Information Technology, and Business and Strategic Planning.
Recently, Brooke had good news to share with the airport’s board of directors, reporting that for the first six months of fiscal year 2012, overall passenger traffic was up 1.1 percent, and international passenger traffic was up nearly 20 percent compared to the same period in 2011. Net revenues for the airport are up 3 percent for the first half of the fiscal year compared to the first half of 2011.
Damian and his wife Teri, a teacher, have three children: Caitlin (17), Kyle (15), and Christopher (9). Brooke’s hobbies include golfing, watching his kids play soccer, and rooting on Manchester United, his home soccer team.
He says his joy of aviation has been passed down to his youngest son. Although Brooke himself had never considered becoming a pilot, Christopher is eager to learn how to fly and has recently joined the Young Eagles Pilot program.
“They say you get jet fuel coursing through your veins,” quoted Brooke, “and that’s what happened to me.”