By Maria-Jose Subiria
Several officials gathered, Friday, in the atrium of the world's busiest airport, to greet the new airport chief, Louis Miller.
Miller, aviation general manager at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, shared his experiences, thus far, at the airport, as well as his expectations for one of the state's prime economic engines, during an afternoon media event.
Miller said he officially began his duties as the airport's general manager, on Monday, and has been educating himself about the airport. "It's just a wonderful opportunity," he said. "This is my first full week ... and I am finding it very exciting."
He said, although leading the busiest airport in the world will be a challenge, he is thankful for the Department of Aviation staff he has inherited. Miller said he is confident his staff will assist him in making his job a smooth transition, as he continues to move forward.
"The most important thing in any airport is safety and security," said the former Tampa-Florida airport chief. "We are going to make that our highest priority as we move forward. Right below that ... is customer service.
"We have to make sure we service customers [with] the highest possible level that we can, so we are going to work towards doing that."
Miller explained that, during the past week, he has met with several City of Atlanta officials, including his senior staff, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and the mayor's staff.
"I am just thrilled to be here," he said, with enthusiasm. "I've got a great deal of people that will make my life a whole lot easier."
Miller said he has also met with the airlines that provide services at Hartsfield-Jackson, to determine what the priorities are for both the airlines and Atlanta's airport.
According to Miller, he will have a long list of responsibilities as chief of Atlanta's airport, including ensuring the completion of the Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., International Terminal, by April 2012.
He said one of the recent changes at Hartsfield-Jackson that he is also keeping an eye on, is the recent merger of Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways, which has its largest hub at Atlanta's airport.
Miller said it is too early to tell what the deal means for the airport, though there will be a six-month process before the merger becomes an actuality. "We [Hartsfield-Jackson] don't have to worry about making any changes right now," he said.
Miller said that, for the last 14 years, he was airport director at Tampa International Airport, in Tampa, Fla., and prior to that, he led the Salt Lake City International Airport, in Salt Lake City, Utah, for 14 years, as well.
"So for about 30 years, I've been working at two major airports in the U.S., so that is my background," he said.
With about 90 million passengers passing through Hartsfield-Jackson each year, Miller describes his challenges in Atlanta as bigger and better. "I am not sure what changes need to be made. I am just going to watch very carefully, as we move forward, to move through this process ... evaluate how we are doing things today, get with my staff, and find out if they think there might be a better way to do something -- and implement change. It's a great-running airport today," he added.