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Atlanta mayor announces three airport chief finalists

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is down to three finalists for the pivotal job of aviation general manager, to oversee operations at the world's busiest airport.

Sonji Jacobs Dade, director of the mayor's office of communications, said on Monday that the three finalists to run Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are: John Clark, III, executive director and CEO of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, in Indianapolis, Ind.; Louis Miller, former executive director and CEO of Tampa International Airport, in Tampa, Fla.; and Lester Robinson, former CEO of Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and Willow Run Airport, in Michigan.

Dade said that, in June, Reed asked Chief Financial Officer Carol Tome, of Home Depot, Inc., to lead an independent search committee to identify and vet candidates from across the U.S., who would qualify to fill the airport-chief position. In addition, Reed also asked Tome to partner with Heidrick & Struggles, an executive search firm, added Dade.

"At Mayor Reed's request, our committee embarked upon an exhaustive search and focused on the leadership of the top 20 airports in America," said Tome. "Mayor Reed asked us to deliver a slate of five diverse candidates, and we delivered. We were unanimous in our recommendation, and are thrilled with his choice of the final three."

* According to Dade, John Clark of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, has 25 years of aviation experience under his belt. He has served as executive director and CEO of the airport authority, since 2009.

At the authority, Clark is responsible for the management and development of six airports, which are located in multiple counties, as well as, the second largest FedEx operation in the world, said Dade. The spokeswoman said that prior to the Indianapolis Airport Authority, Clark was also an executive director and CEO at the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, in Jacksonville, Fla., from 2001 to 2009.

Clark was key in the development and continuos implementation of a $230-million terminal expansion project for Jacksonville International Airport, said Dade.

* Louis Miller, former executive director and CEO of Tampa International airport, has more than 34 years of airport experience, explained Dade. Miller oversaw and developed the airport's system from 1996 to March 2010, which included Peter O. Knight, Plant City and Vandenberg airports.

During his leadership at Tampa's airport, he managed capital improvements worth $1.1 billion, recruited competitive airline services for average domestic airfares and doubled the airport's annual-passenger population to nearly 20 million, said Dade.

* The remaining candidate, Lester Robinson, has more than 25 years of experience, said Dade. He was CEO of Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) and Willow Run Airport, from 2002 to 2010.

"During his tenure, he oversaw the opening of two terminals and its sixth runway, propelling DTW to its current position as number one in airport satisfaction among large airports in North America, according to JD Power and Associates," said city officials.

Some of Robinson's other achievements include: maintaining low costs for airlines, while operating an efficient and convenient airport, as well as the increase of 11,000 parking spaces, and an increase in airport-concession revenues by 388 percent, under his leadership, said Dade.

"I am committed to selecting an aviation general manager at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, who will be dedicated to maintaining its dominance as the world's busiest airport," said Mayor Reed. "My administration is working on several major projects to improve the airport, such as enhancing safety and security measures, growing international cargo operations and completing the construction of the [Maynard H. Jackson Jr.] International Terminal."

Dade added that the new aviation general manager will be tasked with various responsibilities, including ensuring the efficiency of operations at the world's busiest airport, overseeing the $6-billion-plus Capital Improvement Program and providing customer service to 90 million passengers a year.