Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, left, named Louis Miller as Hartsfield-Jackson's new general manager.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed today named Louis Miller, former executive director and CEO of Tampa International Airport, to take Ben DeCosta‘s place as general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Mr. Miller was one of two finalists for the job, beating out Lester Robinson, former CEO of the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. 

Mr. Miller served at the Tampa airport system in various capacities from 1996 until resigning recently as general manager. Before that, he held several positions over 20 years in the airport system in Salt Lake City, where Delta Air Lines Inc. has its western U.S. hub. 

At a City Hall press conference, the mayor said that Mr. Miller’s familiarity with Delta, the largest tenant at Hartsfield, was “very important” in the selection process but that his broader experience also shined. In Tampa, Mr. Miller oversaw $1.1 billion in capital improvements and a doubling of annual passenger traffic to 19 million in 2008 before it dipped to 17.2 million last year. 

Hartsfield handles about 90 million passengers per year and is in the midst of building a $1.4 billion international terminal. 

Mr. Miller, an accountant by training, said he is looking forward to using his experience in construction and capital projects to help secure financing for the international terminal, which is slated to be completed by spring of 2012. 

Mr. Miller plans to start his new job Sept. 27. He’ll focus on learning how things are done currently before recommending improvements, he said, adding that he’ll be spending a lot of time with Robert Kennedy, the interim general manager.

“I need a tour of the airport,” Mr. Miller said.  “I’ve seen a lot, but I’ve got a lot to do, so I’m just really looking forward to it.” 

Mr. Reed said he has made boosting air cargo traffic, particularly international cargo, a priority of his administration. Overall, cargo at Hartsfield is up 22 percent for the first seven months of 2010 compared to last year. International cargo is up 35 percent over the same period, and tonight, South Korea‘s Asiana Airlines will become the 14th all-cargo carrier to serve Hartsfield, the mayor said.

“It’s cool that you’re here today,” he said to Mr. Miller.

Mr. Reed appointed an independent search committee to select the candidates. Carol Tome, the chief financial officer for Home Depot Inc., led the committee, which included current and retired executives from major Atlanta-based banks and corporations including Coca-Cola Co., SunTrust Banks Inc., Turner Enterprises Inc. and others.

The aviation general manager of Hartsfield is tasked with maintaining quality customer service and overseeing safe and secure operations at the world’s busiest airport, which handles 90 million passengers per year.

Mr. Miller will also handle the airport’s ongoing $6 billion Capital Improvement Program, which includes the international terminal project. Mr. DeCosta’s departure at the end of June preceded a wave of personnel changes at the airport.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...