Antiguan-born GM fired from Atlanta airport job

Former GM of Hartsfield-Jackson Intl Airport Miguel Southwell (photo courtesy Biz journals)

After just two years on the job, Antiguan born Miguel Southwell was fired as general manager of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport last Friday.

Southwell’s dismissal, which took effect yesterday, was a direct action taken by Atlanta Mayor, Kasim Reed.

“I don’t have any comments at all about people that were a member of my team,” was just one of the many ways Reed declared he would not disclose why he abruptly fired Southwell.

“When you work for me, you run your department until you don’t.”

The world’s busiest airport that recorded 101 million passengers last year, has been in the spotlight for weeks over long security lines and under pressure to fix the issue with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Long wait times at TSA checkpoints have plagued the Atlanta airport for a year, but have worsened recently, while cropping up at other airports around the country.

At Hartsfield-Jackson, the crowds had become such a sore point that Southwell and his team decided to change the airport’s tagline from “world’s busiest” to “world’s most traveled” saying “busy” had a negative connotation.

Reed argued the airport’s response has lacked urgency and suggested Southwell took his foot off the gas after his dramatic February threat to privatise checkpoints if TSA didn’t fix the problem fast.

Southwell’s dismissal was surprising as only last week he was awarded the prestigious Herman J Russell CEO of the Year award from the Atlanta Business League whose parent organisation was founded in 1933 by Booker T Washington.

Southwell is the third Aviation General Manager to be fired by Mayor Reed in his nearly six and a half year tenure.

“I’m committed to achieving maximum operational efficiencies and the highest level of customer service possible. I wish Mr Southwell the best in the next chapter of his career,” Reed said.

( More in the Daily Observer)