Lydia H. Kennard, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), has announced she will leave her position at the end of January to become chief executive of a new aviation-related real estate company. LAWA is the city agency that manages the city’s four airports.

“I wish to thank [Los Angeles] Mayor [Antonio] Villaraigosa for giving me the privilege to serve in his administra- tion,” said Kennard. “Under his leadership we have been able to accomplish a great deal toward improving Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), furthering his vision of a truly regional approach to meeting passenger and cargo demand in Southern California, and maximizing the department’s financial performance.”

Kennard, who has held the executive director position twice in eight years, said she will serve as special advisor to the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners on the nationwide search for her successor, the Master Plan for LAX, and any other issues on which the commissioners may wish to seek her counsel in 2007.

“I look forward to assisting the BOAC [Board of Airport Commissioners] and the mayor in selecting an experienced leader to continue the momentum we achieved in 2006 at each of the four airports in the LAWA system,” said Kennard.

“I feel the goals set for LAWA when I returned in the fall of 2005 have been achieved, making this a natural time for a transition of leadership,” she said.

“We were most fortunate to have Lydia’s leadership at Los Angeles World Airports over the past 15 months,” said Board of Airport Commissioners president Alan Rothenberg.

“Among her many accomplishments, she was instrumental in settling lawsuits over the LAX Master Plan, launching more than $1 billion in airport construction activity and establishing an ethics program that is a model for government.

“We wish her well as she leaves city service for an exciting new venture in the private sector. We are pleased she has agreed to make herself available to assist us in the transition so that none of the many pending projects will lose any momentum.”

Kennard returned to Los Angeles World Airports as executive director in October 2005 after previously holding the position from 1999 to 2003.

As executive director, she manages four Los Angeles-area airports — Los Angeles International, LA/Ontario International, LA/Palmdale Regional and Van Nuys. The city airport agency has more than 3,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $950 million.

Before joining Los Angeles World Airports, Kennard was president/principal-in-charge of KDG Development & Construction Consulting, a Los Angeles-based firm specializing in construction management for public and private sector clients.

She was also a member of the Los Angeles Planning Commission. In her legal career, Kennard was an associate lawyer with a firm specializing in real estate and construction law.

Kennard is a director of IndyMac Bank; a director of AMB Property, Inc., a global developer and operator of industrial real estate; a director of Intermec, Inc., an industrial technologies company; a member of the UniHealth Foundation Board; and a member of the California Air Resources Board.

“Lydia Kennard is a consummate leader,” Villaraigosa said. “With her capable hand and clear-sighted vision, she piloted L.A. World Airports to new heights, keeping operations running safely and smoothly while bringing us closer to our ultimate destination — creating a truly regional approach to air travel.”

Villaraigosa has asked the Board of Airport Commissioners to conduct an international search to recruit and hire Kennard’s replacement. That search is already underway.