Ralph F. Tragale, a 35+ year veteran of the aviation industry and a former executive at the Port Authority of NY & NJ, offers his clients a broad range of experience and expertise in transportation, aviation, government relations, and community outreach. He has held several senior management positions at the Port Authority, including Assistant Director of Aviation responsible for managing customer service, industry forecasting and analysis, air service development, international programs, communications, marketing, government, and community affairs, and business development for the agency’s five airports: JFK, EWR, LGA, TEB, and SWF.
Mr. Tragale also managed a consultation agreement to operate Atlantic City International Airport and led the agency’s New York Stewart International Airport (SWF) acquisition in 2007.
In 2011, he was named by Crain’s NY as one of the 50 Most Influential Non-Elected New Yorkers. Mr. Tragale also served as Assistant Director of the PA’s Government and Community Relations Department for many years, including during the aftermath of September 11, 2001.
Before joining the Port Authority, Mr. Tragale worked for the NYS Crime Victims Board and as a Bridge & Tunnel Officer for the former Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, a subsidiary of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Mr. Tragale has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from St. John’s University in Jamaica, NY. He also attended the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and completed a certificate course at the MIT/Harvard University Public Disputes Program.
1 Tell us about yourself and your new business RT Connects Consulting.
Ralph Tragale: I spent my entire life working in the transportation field, and when I decided to leave the Port Authority after more than 32 years, I knew I wasn’t done. As anyone in the aviation industry knows, it’s tough to give up the challenges and relationships that only our industry can give you.
Everybody seems to leave the government and go into the consulting world; I didn’t want to be just one more consultant. Instead, I wanted to use the relationships I have built over the decades to help aviation businesses and airports achieve their objectives. No reports, no spreadsheets, just helping people connect with others to help their organizations. I’ve been lucky to establish a business that allows me to stay in touch with the hundreds of industry professionals I call friends.
2 Can you share any highlights from your time with the PANYNJ?
Ralph Tragale: Many people would focus on the big-ticket brick-and-mortar items as career highlights, such as delivering major capital plans, like new airport terminals, air trains, or the like. Instead, I prefer to recall the occasions I got to experience with colleagues, like working through Superstorm Sandy, rebuilding the World Trade Center and our agency after Sept 11th, and hosting dignitaries from around the world to our region.
3 What was the best part of being the PANYNJ External and Community Affairs Director?
Ralph Tragale: The best part of my career was having responsibilities at all the airports, which allowed me to meet people in New York and New Jersey, get to know their communities, and share what makes them all unique. I want to think I was a credible representative for a government agency, which was very rewarding.
Most communities didn’t welcome government representatives because they only visited when there were complaints. So I was there in good times and bad.
4 How would you suggest a company interested in doing business at the airport get started?
Ralph Tragale: Get involved in some of the many airport organizations. You will meet some fascinating people who will be more than willing to help you and your business. One thing that always amazes me is how airport companies support each other, especially during emergencies. It’s one of the things that keeps people working in this industry; the comradery is unparallel.
5 Delta has announced plans for Home-to-Airport eVTOL services. Will the public respond positively to this?
Ralph Tragale: I think society will accept eVTOL as a key element of the transportation network. The industry keeps adapting, whether it’s cell phones, apps, or tablets. Infrastructure needs to keep up with people as they evolve. Airlines like Delta have been essential in meeting customers’ needs and should be celebrated for their efforts and investments.