Our Dedicated Team of Professionals
Leadership Team Profiles
President and CEO
The son of a Navy Pilot, Kurt was born in Pensacola, Florida and has lived in at least 9 places growing up – from Monterey, California to Key West, Florida. His nomadic lifestyle continued into his own career in the United States Air Force, including his final assignment in Zaragoza, Spain as the first C-130 exchange pilot with the Spanish Air Force.
Upon leaving the Air Force, Kurt served as a Captain, Instructor Pilot, and Manager of Flight Engineer Instructors and Check Airmen for Eastern Airlines. He earned his B.S. in General Engineering from USAF Academy, an M.S. in Management from Troy State University, and his Juris Doctor from Concord Law School. Kurt is a member of the California Bar Association and he is fluent in Spanish.
Kurt loves the outdoors, especially when he can get in some sailing, tennis, biking, jogging, or time with his grandchildren.
Where would Kurt go for a week with a Miami Air International charter flight?
Kurt tends to avoid big crowds during his down time, but as a 737 Captain, he would be happy to fly a Miami Air International 737-800 full of guests to the Greek Islands for a week. He would likely leave the guests on shore to enjoy the island, as he pursued his passion for sailing in Greece with a handful of close friends and family.
In 2018 Rafael was promoted to Vice President of Business Operations where he now oversees the company’s finance and IT departments.
Prior to joining the company as Chief Information Officer in 2009, Rafael oversaw the implementation of Miami Air's IT Systems from 1998 until his appointment in 2009.
Rafael began his career while still in school, developing software solutions for financial institutions. In 1993 he founded “Sistemas Amaranta,” a software company that specialized in the development of systems for banks and other financial companies. Upon selling his interest in the company in 1997, he moved to Miami, Florida where he founded “Tamar Consulting Corp.” As President and Chairman of Tamar Consulting Corp, he was responsible for the design and delivery of key systems for firms specializing in travel, finance, retail, and procurement.
Rafael was born and raised in Mexico where he obtained his B.S. in Economics from “El Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM).” In 2005, he earned his MBA from the University of Miami, receiving the Academic Merit Award.
Where would Rafael go for a week with a Miami Air International charter flight?
“While I’m focused on systems and infrastructure at Miami Air International, I know that our business is all about service. I would follow the lead of our corporate incentive trip customers, by recognizing our top-performing flight attendants with an incentive trip to Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico. In addition to enjoying the amazing beaches and the world-famous cliff divers, they could experience authentic cuisine, culture, and nightlife at el Zócalo.”
Captain John Passwater is the Vice President of Flight Operations. His areas of responsibility include Flight Control/Dispatch, Crew Scheduling/Travel, Training as well as the Pilot and Flight Attendant groups.
John joined the Miami Air team in 1996. Prior to that he served as a commissioned officer and pilot in the U.S. Air Force. His service included tours with the Hurricane Hunters, a member of General Schwarzkopf’s staff during Desert Storm, and numerous tours in the Intelligence and Special Operations communities. Prior to retiring in the rank of Lt. Col., John commanded a unit based at Andrews, AFB, MD that conducted VIP and special missions airlift. His awards during this time include the Bronze Star, Air Medal, and Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
Captain Passwater started with Miami Air as the Director of Operations and was qualified as a captain on the Boeing 727. He later became the Vice President for Cargo, the Director of Safety, and the Chief Pilot before becoming the Vice President of Operations in 2015. John has been designated by the FAA as a Check Airman on the Boeing 737 aircraft, and he has amassed over 12,000 hours as a pilot-in-command in six different transport category aircraft.
Captain Passwater was awarded a B.S. in International Affairs from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a M.S. in Contract and Acquisition Management from the Florida Institute of Technology. He is also a graduate of the USAF Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College.
Where would John go for a week with a Miami Air International charter flight?
“I would like to go to Santiago, Chile, to experience the fantastic seafood and wines then hop across the Andes to Mendoza, Argentina, to enjoy the rich Italian/Latin culture and cuisine there.”
Senior Director of Safety and Security
As Senior Director of Safety and Security, Armando Martinez oversees safety and security from an operational, procedural, and process perspective. He is at the forefront of aviation safety and led the company’s initiative to pilot a Safety Management System, for which he and the company has been recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration. He also oversees the company's Technical Publications and regularly speaks at aviation safety conferences.
Prior to joining Miami Air International, Armando co-founded “Miami Air Lease”. While there he earned his Airline Transport Pilot Certificate and A& P license. In 1986, he pursued his love of flying for various carriers, piloting the Boeing 707, while acquiring type-ratings on the ATR-42, Boeing 727 and 747. Over the course of his career, he has held the positions of Flight Instructor, Check Airman, Chief Pilot, Director of Operations and Chief Operating Officer. He earned his AA in Aviation from Miami Dade College, and has trained with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board. Originally from Santa Clara, Cuba, Armando moved to Miami with his family when he was 8. He has lived in New York City, Philadelphia, and Santa Monica, California, and considers Miami home.
Where would Armando go for a week with a Miami Air International charter flight?
“I would follow the Miami Air International commitment to the Sunshine Foundation by taking a group chronically ill, seriously ill, or physically challenged and abused, with their families on a special tour of the most beautiful locations in the US. I want them to have a well-deserved, lasting memory that might otherwise be out of their reach.”
Director of Sales
Jennifer Cook has been on the Miami Air International sales team for 13 years. She took a 6-year hiatus from the company when moving her family to Texas in 1999. During that time Jennifer managed arrangements for over 500 meetings annually for Medical World Conferences. Before joining the company, she developed a cruise line charter program for a major charter broker, worked for the Sheraton in sales and participated in a college work program at Disney World.
Originally from Connecticut, Jennifer moved to Boston for college, where she earned her B.S. in Travel and Hospitality.
Where would Jennifer go for a week with a Miami Air International charter flight?
“Everyone here at the office knows I am obsessed with Europe and in particular I love Italy. I would take my family and friends for a tour around Italy hitting all of the highlights and a few less explored treasures throughout Italy. Of course my crazy travel obsession might kick in and I would try and fit and some of my bucket list locations like Portugal, Croatia, and Montenegro.”
Sales Team Profiles
Carla Manechini joined Miami Air International in 2012 as a flight attendant. The following year she was promoted to the role of Crew Scheduling Coordinator, and in December 2014 she was promoted to Account Executive. She has gained a great deal of insight in the areas of what customers value most about our products, as well as what is involved from the operational perspective to deliver.
Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Carla relocated with her Family to Miami, Florida as a child. She earned her BA in Business Administration in 2009, and she speaks Portuguese and Spanish.
Where would Carla go for a week with a Miami Air International charter flight?
“I would love to take my closest friends and family to explore Australia. It is such an extraordinary place, with everything from beaches to deserts. You would find me exploring the Great Barrier Reef, watching the march of the red crabs, star gazing in the bush, riding the world’s steepest railway in the Blue Mountains, or at the beach throwing some prawns and chook on the barbie. This list would go on and on and on.”
Dan Polulak joined Miami Air International as an Account Executive in August of 2011 and moved into the role of Marketing Manager in December 2014. He is also certified as a Ground Security Coordinator (GSC), and he frequently assists with departures for sports teams and VIP incentive groups. Prior to joining the Miami Air team, Dan began his career as a Social Host /Club O2 Director onboard five ships Carnival Cruise Lines fleet throughout the Caribbean.
He worked as a ground handler American Airlines and Air Canada, and then participated in the Management Trainee program at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort and before returning to his ultimate passion; aviation.
Dan grew up in Sarasota Florida and earned a BA in Resort and Hospitality Management from Florida Gulf Coast University. He also participated in the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea study abroad program, a 75-day voyage in Europe and Africa.
Where would Dan go for a week with a Miami Air International charter flight?
“I would take my friends and family for an extended weekend to Hamilton, Bermuda. On the flight over passengers would be welcomed with Rum Swizzle (the unofficial drink of Bermuda). Once on the island his guests would stay at an amazing 5-star resort, the Fairmont Southampton that is a favorite of one of our corporate clients. The days would be spent exploring the scenic 20 mile long island on scooters, or relaxing on the beautiful Horseshoe Bay beach with its famous pink sand. Besides Kayaking, Scuba, and amazing beaches there are great cycling and ecotourism options, in addition to the world famous shopping. It’s basically got something for everybody! ”