In March 2020, Pittsburgh International Airport was on the cusp of securing two foundational parts of its future: a new airline operating agreement and financing for a $1.4 billion terminal that would dramatically reinvigorate the entire campus.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Yet even as the aviation industry came to a standstill amid the crisis, Eric Sprys calmly navigated the rapidly changing market conditions and increased risk to complete both priorities in 2021.
For these efforts and others, Sprys—executive vice president and chief financial officer for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which operates PIT—was recently named the 2022 Finance Professional of the Year for medium-sized airports by Airports Council International-North America.
“The COVID pandemic has placed incredible strains on our airports—only adding to the funding challenges so many already faced—but finance professionals like Eric stepped up to address them head on,” said ACI-NA president and CEO Kevin M. Burke.
“Financial stability and innovation have been imperative to our industry’s ability to tackle the challenges we’ve faced, and this year’s winners developed and delivered the kind of financial solutions their airports and employees needed during a very difficult time.”
Sprys joined the airport authority in 2017 as chief commercial officer after serving as CFO at A. Stucki Company and Kadmon Pharmaceuticals. In 2020, he was named EVP and CFO of the airport.
He oversees legal, business intelligence and finance for PIT and Allegheny County Airport and collaborates with airlines, airport tenants and community partners to promote the authority’s mission of driving innovation and regional growth.
“I am part of an amazing team, and my accomplishments are in great respect due to their support,” Sprys said. “We have come a long way during a difficult time. In fact, these past two years have really reinforced how critical it is to have a motivated team with a shared vision.”
The initial upheaval caused by the pandemic put most long-term planning and projects in the aviation industry on hold. But the authority decided to move forward with the Terminal Modernization Program, and Sprys was a key part of that effort.
He worked with PIT’s airlines in the early stages of the pandemic to execute a short-term agreement to advance the design of the new terminal. In June 2021, the authority announced a long-term deal with the airlines to fund construction, reflecting the airlines’ confidence in the project.
At the same time, Sprys was leading the way on securing financing for the project. The authority received strong ratings for a bond issue and obtained more than $1 billion in bond proceeds at historically low interest rates for its largest deal ever.
“Eric’s impact can be seen in all corners of our campus, from our unique Neighborhood 91 additive manufacturing hub to the growing cargo logistics center to the local businesses operating in our terminals,” CEO Christina Cassotis said. “He is pragmatic, discerning and creative in problem-solving, and his leadership of several departments has been crucial to the organization’s success.”
Sprys, who began his career as a high school math teacher, earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary mathematics education from Penn State University and a master’s degree in business administration from Duquesne University. He also holds a certified public accountant license.