A man in a suit and sunglasses
Mukesh “Mookie” Patel is the new director of San Jose Mineta International Airport. Photo courtesy of San Jose.

San Jose’s airport is getting a new director with three decades of experience, including gigs at major hubs in Denver and Austin.

Starting Monday, Mukesh “Mookie” Patel will take over as the city’s director of aviation at San Jose Mineta International Airport, the city announced this week.

“Our next airport director has big shoes to fill,” Mayor Matt Mahan said in a statement. “And with over 30 years of experience, I believe Mookie is the right person to usher in a new era of innovation and reliability for our award-winning airport.”

Patel succeeds John Aitken, who retired this month after six years as aviation director in the city and a 31-year career at SJC.

Patel comes to San Jose from Texas, where he was the head of business and finance for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and the city said he increased non-airline revenues there by 9% within three years.

“I am eager to bring my expertise and spirited leadership to the SJC team,” Patel said in a statement. “I am committed to fostering strong partnerships with airlines and contributing to the sustained success of the airport for the benefit of the entire community.”

Patel was unavailable for comment, an airport spokesperson told San José Spotlight.

City Manager Jennifer Maguire said Patel is “positioned well to lead the airport in the areas of rebuilding passenger and route traffic, navigating complex airport and airline partnerships, expertly managing resources and new revenues to meet our city’s aviation goals and maintaining the employee culture while keeping it aligned with our customer service initiatives.”

San Jose’s airport has seen steady upticks in holiday traffic over the past couple of years as airports continue to recover from the pandemic. The airport also rebranded at the end of 2022, updating its logo and changing its name from the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport to San Jose Mineta International Airport, in an effort to make it easier for customers to find and buy tickets.

Prior to Austin, Patel held roles as assistant director at San Antonio International Airport and senior vice president of airline affairs and commercial property at Denver International Airport.

As manager of airport affairs corporate real estate with Alaska Airlines, San Jose said Patel handled a diverse portfolio of airport relationships across the country, including San Jose.

“I firmly believe travel should be accessible to all,” Patel said. “Be it a traveler who can afford a $49 fare or someone who can afford a $449 fare, it is in our best interest to have a wide range of airline partners providing sustainable and easily accessible flights to and from our community and points beyond.”

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