Reed’s choice for airport gm — Louis Miller — is a surprise

By Maria Saporta

Well I really got this one wrong.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed named Louis Miller as his pick for general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — a move that surprised me as well as people involved in the airline and airport industry.

Louis Miller is the former CEO of Tampa International Airport. He was one of three finalists that included John Clark, the current general manager of the Indianapolis airport, and Lester Robinson, the former general manager of the Detroit airport authority.

At different times, Clark and Robinson had been considered front-runners for the post. Clark withdrew his name from consideration last Friday after news broke that he had been arrested in Florida last February for speeding as fast as 135 miles per hour after the Super Bowl. Clark also may have withdrawn his name when he realized he was not going to be offered the job.

Mayor Reed said he made his decision on his pick for a general manager on Friday, Sept. 3, but the mayor said it took most of last week for the city to negotiate an agreement with Miller.

A few facts came out on Monday. The city is not offering Miller a contract. His compensation at Hartsfield-Jackson, the busiest airport in the world, will be less than what he was making in Tampa, an airport that is not even listed in the top 25 of the nation’s airports.

Another interesting piece here is that Miller had not been considered as the top choice of Hartsfield-Jackson’s major tenant — Delta Air Lines. Delta officials have had a much longer working relationship with worked much more closely with both Robinson and Clark.

During the press conference, Miller said the relationship between Delta and the airport is very important.

But then he said he is a strong believer in “increased and enhanced competition” and appreciates the presence of AirTran as Hartsfield-Jackson’s second largest tenant.

“You have to treat all you tenants the same,” Miller said. “Competition is a good thing. You want to bring as much competition as one possibly can.”

By the way, Miller has run two airports — Tampa and Salt Lake City — where discount carrier Southwest established key hubs during his tenure.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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