Dave (don’t call me David) Lees is the airport’s Managing Director. He’s often to be found out and about in the airport terminal (only occasionally dressed as Father Christmas!) posing for photos with the winner of our monthly customer service award, on a walkaround with heads of department seeing how everything’s running, or once in a while, when it’s very busy, helping out in the security search area. He also spends a significant amount of time away from the airport, meeting airlines, other airports and the local community.
Where’s your favourite holiday destination?
When I’m thinking of a holiday, I have to go abroad to get away from the stress of life and being at the end of a telephone or answering emails. Not surprisingly given my role I love flying, and it will therefore come as no great surprise that I love travelling long distances whenever I have the opportunity. A holiday destination always have to have sun, sea and the opportunity to explore a new location ! There are so many beautiful and varied places in the world that I have still yet to discover, however my favourite to date has to be Mexico. It is certainly hot and sunny, with the sea like a warm bath. I love catamaran sailing when I get the chance on holiday, and in the afternoon’s the breeze picks up, and soon you can be flying across the water. Finally as the sun takes a rest it’s time for my favourite cocktail, a chilled Mojito. Magic.
We’re grabbing a drink in Costa, what do you order?
My favourite drink depends on the season, however the common factor is my sweet tooth. In winter I need the energy and taste of a hot chocolate, whilst in summer I go for a toffee cooler. I could go for cream with both options however that’s just too sweet, and not good for my figure.
What was the Christmas present that you asked for as a child, that you never got (and are possibly still a little upset about)?
Wow this is a few years ago, however there is one item that I can recall. I’ve always had a passion for aviation probably because I always had to travel by boat or plane to get anywhere when I was younger. I was born and grew up on the island of Jersey. Travel was a part of life. When I came to London as a kid I would look up in the sky and see huge jumbo jets flying over London on their way to Heathrow. I wanted a model jumbo jet, but perhaps my letter to Santa got lost.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A bit of a theme running here relating to travel and aviation. I always wanted to be a pilot. I wanted to be the smart guy at the front of the plane who was in control of a powerful jet, and could travel the world. I’m fortunate however in that whilst I’m not a pilot today I work in an environment which couldn’t be closer to the excitement of flying. Whilst flying for many has become part of modern day living, I still believe that the majority of people should be excited to some degree about travelling by air, rather than seeing it as a challenge.
What’s the best thing about working at Southampton Airport?
There are so many things which energise me on a daily basis however if there was one element it would have to be the variety and change which the airport environment represents. The ability to constantly improve all aspects of the airport and the diversity which comes with this is my energiser. Southampton Airport may not be the largest airport in the UK however regardless of its size the majority of the issues are faced by all airports, whether that be improving safety, improving service, the commercial pressures of running a multimillion pound business with 190 staff or how the airport develops new routes. The great aspect of Southampton Airport is that its size means you can ‘get your hands around’ the issues and make quick decisions and maintain a personal touch with both staff and customers.
See Dave as Father Christmas in our You Tube Christmas video message here