Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport General Manager John Selden is leaving his position to take a job in the Middle East.
Selden said he’s been offered “a tremendous opportunity ... and I need to take that opportunity and run with it.”
He will serve as the CEO of the Neom airport development company in Saudi Arabia. Selden said his last day at Hartsfield-Jackson will be April 3.
A former Navy commander and airline pilot, Selden was a deputy general manager at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport before coming to Atlanta in 2018.
Since the pandemic hit, Selden has “kept our airport ready for recovery, and our operations staff focused on customer service and our multibillion-dollar capital improvement program,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a written statement.
COVID-19 caused passenger counts to decline more than 60% last year, and Selden has said a full airport recovery could take two to five years.
But, even with the pandemic, the airport has low debt, leaving it “in an excellent position to continue to drive the economy of Georgia,” he said.
During Selden’s tenure, the airport moved forward on a $6 billion expansion and modernization. Meanwhile, the city was under federal investigation for corruption, leading to closer scrutiny of contracting.
“We are sad to see him go, but very happy for him and his future endeavors,” Bottoms said in the statement. It’s yet to be seen who will replace Selden. The mayor’s office has not yet named a replacement or an interim manager.
Selden said the airport has “three tremendous deputy general managers there. Any of them could fill my shoes.” The airport’s deputy general managers are Balram Bheodari, who manages operations and previously served as interim general manager; Michael Smith, who handles administration; and Greg Richardson, the chief financial officer.