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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ben DeCosta to vacate airport manager job

ben decosta

There's yet another personnel change on the way for Atlanta — wait, don't stop reading; this one's a biggie. This time it's Ben DeCosta, the general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Not only is DeCosta the highest-paid city employee — with a base salary in the neighborhood of $286,000 — but he's easily the longest serving city department head, with 12 years on the job.

More than that, however, DeCosta is unique because he oversees the world's busiest airport. Importance-wise, his position ranks up there with mayor and police chief. Recruiting his replacement will likely attract resumes from across the globe.

Why is he leaving? Here's his explanation, from today's press release:

I have enjoyed my tenure at the Airport, and it has been a privilege to have been part of such a collaborative, dynamic team.  Our work has left the airport — now the world’s busiest — in much better shape than when I arrived.

For example, we built a fifth runway — “the most important runway in America”, successfully created an airport-wide focus on customer service, developed an off-airport rental car center and train system — the first in the nation to connect a major convention center to a major airport by train, enhanced the security checkpoint to significantly reduce wait times, and we continue to positively impact our region’s economy.

The time feels right to now move on to new challenges and pass the torch to someone else. This decision was not made easily.  After discussing it with my wife, we decided it was time for a change in direction.

DeCosta's current contract expires at the end of June, so it's not a stretch to guess that Mayor Reed may have had something to do with his departure. This is not to suggest DeCosta had done anything wrong, but the chance to bring in a new aviation commissioner offers the mayor an almost irresistible opportunity to put his own imprint on the city.

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