Parkway Corporation Assistant Vice President Charles Newkirk recently received the “Unsung Heroes” award from Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) Employee Recognition Program. This award honors employees who work behind the scenes and are not typically recognized for their work. Although they do not work directly with guests, their effectiveness significantly impacts the airport and guest experience.
Newkirk directs ground transportation at PHL, specifically the traffic on the South Commercial Road, which includes taxis, commercial buses, ground transportation information, personal vehicles, shared ride drivers, employee parking, and commercial vehicles. Newkirk has been at Parkway for 40 years, serving 30 of those years at PHL. Since 1993, when he first arrived at PHL, he’s witnessed the growth of the airport, including the construction of Terminal A-West and Terminal F.
Newkirk initially began as a parking lot attendant and has held various other positions within Parkway before his current position. Throughout his career, Newkirk has attained a Certified Parking Facility Manager Certification from the National Parking Association. He’s also a member of the American Ground Transportation Association and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).
In her nomination of Newkirk, Parkway Corporation Senior Operations Manager Ashley Cebollero stated, “I’m nominating Charles for his hard work and dedication to PHL and its passengers. I work closely with him every day and seeing his work ethic and genuine care for the airport and its passengers amazes me. He spends many hours, days, nights, and weekends ensuring the operations he oversees run optimally. Charles has been working at the airport for the past 30 years and has successfully implemented systems and services to ensure the passenger experience is great. He has designed and implemented the ground transportation operation we see today at PHL. Many other airports reach out to him because they are interested in PHL’s ground transportation operation. For example, PHL was one of the first airports to implement a virtual taxi holding lot. Charles enhanced PHL’s former hospitality program for stranded passengers in what started out as handing out pillows and emergency blankets to providing a full sleep zone in which passengers were given complimentary snacks, water, pillows, fleece blankets, vanity kits and a cots to sleep on.”
Newkirk always prepares for his work a day ahead and enjoys that every day is different at the airport. The fast-paced environment is an aspect of the airport that he welcomes with open arms.
“I enjoy interacting with the wide range of people I encounter on a daily basis,” said Newkirk. “From passengers to our management team - the people facet of the airport is the most important part of the job. It’s just my nature to try to help people and make things better in any way possible, no matter how big or small.”
Cebollero continued, “Charles is currently implementing a new parking access system at PHL’s employee lots which will enhance the employee parking lot experience. These are just some examples to show how Charles is a visionary and not afraid to think outside the box and continuously think of more ways for PHL to be leaders in the industry. His innovative ideas and persistence to collaborate played a major role in Uber awarding PHL “The 2021 Innovators” of the year award. He is customer focused and always goes above and beyond for the airport and its passengers. There’s no task too big or too small Charles would not do if it enhances the guest experience at PHL. I’m sure I can speak for the entire Parkway team at the airport when I say Charles is a hard worker, great leader, dedicated, genuine, selfless, and caring person, and we are very proud to have him as our leader. I truly hope Charles is considered for this great award because I believe he deserves this recognition for all he does behind the scenes to enhance PHL’s guest experience.”
Newkirk loves coming to work every day. He believes in treating everyone fairly, consistently, and respectfully and encourages his team to do the same. In the past, Parkway at PHL recorded handling over a million questions from passengers in one year.
“We have a great management team here at Parkway,” said Newkirk. “Everyone is focused, the same way that I am. We’re always thinking of different ways we can make the airport better. Our staff is long-tenured because we treat people fairly. As a result, our employees want to stay.”
He hopes Parkway continues to make a positive difference at the airport and is committed to the success of the airport.
“Parkway is a Philadelphia-based business,” said Newkirk. “It’s a family-owned business, and they treat you like family. I know everyone in the company. The CEO knows me. I’m not just a number. That’s how Parkway has always been – they appreciate the people that work for them. Additionally, working with the Department of Aviation management team over the years has also been rewarding. They support our work and we appreciate them for trusting us.”
The PHL Employee Recognition Program was established by the airport’s Guest Experience (GX) Department. Honorees are nominated by their peers and selected by the GX Council Steering Committee’s Employee Conduct and Recognition Committee. For more information about the program and to nominate an employee, click here.