Brian D. Ryks, A.A.E., was named Executive Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission in May 2016. He is responsible for the administration and management of one of the nation’s largest airport systems, including Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and six reliever airports.
From 2016 through 2022, Ryks oversaw $1.9 billion in MAC airport improvement projects, including:
- A multi-year expansion and modernization of facilities at the front of MSP’s Terminal 1, including the departures and arrivals lobbies, which improved passenger flow across multiple levels
- Expansion of Terminal 1’s Concourse G for additional gate seating, concessions and a new Delta Sky Club
- Addition of the new Silver Parking Ramp, providing 5,000 more vehicle stalls at Terminal 1 as well as new ground transportation and auto rental facilities
- Significant enhancements to the valet parking garage and lost-and-found facilities.
- Reconstruction of the Terminal 1 roadway
- Expansion of the Arts@MSP program, one of the nation’s premier airport arts and culture initiatives
- Upgrades to airport safety and technology infrastructure
- Major infrastructure improvements at the Crystal and Lake Elmo reliever airports that enhanced safety and efficiency
Coupled with a revamped, award-winning concessions program and an intense focus on the customer experience, the improvements contributed to Airports Council International naming MSP the Best Airport in North America in its size category for six out of seven consecutive years. The annual awards are based on traveler surveys.
MSP set passenger records every year of Ryks’ tenure at the MAC until the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, driving down air travel demand across the globe.
Before arriving in Minneapolis, Ryks was executive director and CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich. While there, Ryks oversaw major airport improvements, a re-branding campaign, and a governance transition from county control to airport authority. Ryks also led an innovative funding campaign to raise $20 million in private capital in support of a $45 million terminal expansion.
During Ryks’ tenure, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport set all-time records for passengers in 2014 and 2015 and was rated as the number one airport in North America in its size category by Airports Council International in 2015.
Prior to his time in Michigan, Ryks was the executive director of the Duluth Airport Authority, overseeing Duluth International and Sky Harbor airports in Minnesota. During his 10 years in Duluth, Ryks oversaw the completion of $135 million in airport improvements, culminating with a $77 million project to develop a new terminal.
Before arriving in Duluth, Ryks was employed for five years as the airport manager at the St. Cloud Regional Airport and for two years as the airport manager in Aberdeen, S. D. He also spent six years in Denver, where he was the manager of noise abatement at Stapleton and Denver International Airports.
He began his career as a noise technician at the Metropolitan Airports Commission in 1986.
Ryks holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Cloud State University, is a licensed pilot with an instrument rating and is an Accredited Airport Executive with the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). Ryks is also a member of the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) US Policy Council. He is a past member of ACI-NA’s Board of Directors and is past chair of the ACI-NA Large Hub Airports Committee. In addition, Ryks is a former board member AAAE and its Policy Review Committee. He holds a professional affiliation with the Great Lakes Chapter of AAAE (GL-AAAE) and is past president of GL-AAAE.
On the community front, Ryks is a board member of Meet Minneapolis as well as of the Minneapolis Area Chamber of Commerce. He is also on the Executive Committee of the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota.
Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) presented Ryks with the Excellence in Visionary Leadership Award in 2023 for his career contributions in managing airports; it is the highest honor given by the trade association to an active airport CEO/Director. Other awards and honors for Ryks include being named the 2015 Newsmaker of the Year in Economic Development by the Grand Rapids Business Journal; and receiving a 2012 Minnesota Council of Airports Distinguished Service Award, a 2009 Minnesota Council of Airport’s Award of Excellence for Outstanding Promotion of Aviation, a 2008 Patriot Award from the National Guard and Reserve, and a 2006 TSA Partnership Award.