As Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed assembles a panel to select the next general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to succeed Ben DeCosta, industry insiders are already floating names for the job.
Among them: Miguel Southwell, deputy director of Miami International Airport and a former Hartsfield-Jackson manager; John D. Clark III, Indianapolis Airport Authority executive director; and Larry Cox, president of Memphis International Airport.
However, because the official search won’t start until Reed’s selection committee forms, it’s expected that other candidates will emerge.
Some of the country’s other high-volume airports, such as Chicago-O’Hare, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Denver, Los Angeles and Phoenix are considered good breeding grounds for managers who might run Atlanta’s airport, the world’s busiest.
DeCosta came to Atlanta 12 years ago from the authority that runs New York City-area airports. He retires June 30, and Reed has said he expects to have a replacement lined up by then.
Before Southwell took the Miami position, he worked at Hartsfield-Jackson for 11 years, including a stint as interim assistant director. In Miami he is responsible for business retention and development.
Reed has said he’d like Hartsfield-Jackson to be a secondary hub to Miami for air cargo to Latin America. Miami is the top U.S. airport for international passenger traffic.
Southwell said he has not been contacted by the city. But he said the Miami and Atlanta airports face similar challenges, adding, “I’d certainly like the opportunity to address those challenges as I have here.”
Clark has headed the Indianapolis airport for about a year. Shortly before he took over, Indianapolis opened a new 1.2 million square-foot airport complex. Clark also was airport director in Detroit. He was not available for comment.
Cox has run the Memphis airport since 1985 and was named airport manager of the year by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Southern region in 1994.
As FedEx’s hub, Memphis is the busiest cargo airport in the world, and it is a Delta Air Lines hub.
He said he has not been officially contacted and would not enter himself as a potential candidate for the Hartsfield-Jackson job.
“I plan on completing my career here at Memphis International Airport,” Cox said.
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