The person who could one day pilot Charleston County Aviation Authority is a little closer to landing the job of second in command.

A slew of more than 160 candidates from across the nation has been whittled down to nine finalists for the position of deputy director, according to Paul Campbell, director of Charleston County's three airports.

Some of those nine include candidates already working at the agency, though none of the names has been released.

Those nine will be narrowed to three finalists over the next two weeks or so. The names of the final three will be released, Campbell said.

The new deputy director will replace longtime Aviation Authority employee Bill New, who will retire June 30.

Campbell will make the final decision himself. The position does not require board approval. The 13-member board hires only the director and the attorney.

Campbell hopes to have the position filled by mid-May, so the newly named deputy director can work about six weeks with New before he departs.

In other airport news, Matt McCoy with Michael Baker Corp., the firm managing the $189 million makeover of the 29-year-old terminal at Charleston International, expects to have the full cost of asbestos abatement by May. That cost will be in addition to the budgeted amount of the terminal overhaul since asbestos was discovered unexpectedly while dismantling some exterior walls of the terminal in areas being renovated and expanded.

McCoy wasn't prepared to say if getting rid of the asbestos, a cancer-causing substance no longer used in construction, will delay the scheduled August 2015 completion of the major airport overhaul.

Construction continues to hum along, though.

Workers have completed the second baggage carousel and are now working to upgrade the final one. It should be completed sometime in May, McCoy said.

The renovation includes the addition of a third baggage claim belt, five new gates, consolidated security checkpoints and a dome over the central hall, among numerous other structural and cosmetic changes.

The new rental car pavilion has already opened, but officials are working to improve some deficiencies in the area, including keeping the new terrazzo floor scuff-free and putting a different finish on some upper wall areas.

The Aviation Authority has $11.2 million set aside for cost overruns, but so far has spent only $910,000, McCoy said.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or