Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has appointed entrepreneur and nightclub impresario Sam Nazarian to the Board of Airport Commissioners.

Nazarian, 33, will replace Christine Essel on the seven-member board. Essel resigned to run for the San Fernando Valley council seat vacated by newly-elected City Controller Wendy Greuel.

Nazarian, whose parents immigrated to Los Angeles from Iran, made his name as a Hollywood nightclub operator, founding such landmarks as the Hyde and the Foxtail. His company, SBE Entertainment Group, has since diversified into restaurants, hotels and film distribution. He owns the SLS Hotel in West Hollywood.

Assuming he wins City Council confirmation, Nazarian will join the airport commission as it grapples with declining air traffic volumes due to the global recession. Other critical issues include the overhaul of Tom Bradley International Terminal and a proposed extension of the Green Metro Rail line to the airport.

In a press release, Nazarian said he wanted to make LAX "one of the greatest airports in the world," He added: "In a time where the challenges of global travel continue to rise, it is crucial to continually improve our vital gateway to the world."

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