Longtime Orlando-Sanford International Airport CEO to retire

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SANFORD, Fla. - The longtime Orlando-Sanford International Airport CEO has announced his retirement.

And within minutes of hearing that Larry Dale was stepping down, the board that oversees the airport was voting on his potential replacement.

Dale is credited with adding nearly 70 new flights and tripling the airport's assets. After 14 years in charge, he announced he'll retire in six months.

"While I still have my health," Dale said. "I want to do all those adventurous pursuits I've been dreaming of."

Dale read his notice at last week's Airport Authority board meeting. Three minutes later, Diane Crews was nominated as his replacement.

"I know what we have in Diane, and I would say that Diane should be the woman in waiting and take over, have a smooth transition so that when Larry retires on Sept. 30, she moves in," said Whitey Eckstein.

Crews was promoted to DFO last year, which put her second in command to Dale, but both the Airport Authority board's attorney and its chairman urged caution.

It will be the first time the current board will select new leadership, and the rules on how to do so aren't clear, officials said.

"It is a mistake to make a decision this important on no notice, no conversation," said Chairman Frank Ioppolo. "We don't know the legal ramifications."

Dale makes $266,000 a year, which is about $20,000 per year more than the CEO of Orlando International Airport.

Ultimately, board members shot down Crews taking over with 5-3 vote.

Crews and Dale declined to comment. Plans to replace Dale will be discussed at the next board meeting.