As Robert Kennedy considered a job offer that would take him away from the airport where he spent 17 fruitful years, one thing was non-negotiable: he had to stay in Atlanta

“I didn’t want to move away from Atlanta. I love Atlanta. Atlanta has been my home for 25 years. Being in aviation and international business, what better place is there than Atlanta?” said Mr. Kennedy, who left Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in July.

Before joining Montreal consultancy Aviation Strategies International, Mr. Kennedy was the airport’s interim deputy general manager, second in command to General Manager Louis Miller. It was the highest position he had held at the airport since joining its staff in the early 1990s.

After so many “absolutely wonderful years,” it was time to put the knowledge he had accumulated on aviation, air cargo and airport management to work in a different setting, Mr. Kennedy said.

At the new company, he will lead the establishment of an air cargo consulting division, a return to the field that brought him to Hartsfield in 1993. 

Aviation Strategies International, a Canadian firm, also hopes to open a U.S. office in Atlanta, an effort Mr. Kennedy would also lead.

The company’s vice president for consulting services, he will also be involved in training airport executives internationally, another reason it made sense to stay in Atlanta.

“I’m going to be doing projects around the world. If I’m going to China or Australia or Africa, I’ve got direct flights,” he told GlobalAtlanta.

Though he’ll travel often, he still plans to be engaged with the local community. He’s traveling with CIFAL Atlanta, a United Nations training organization, to Brazil next week.

“I can’t divorce myself from Atlanta aviation. I have too much emotion and time and duty here,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Mr. Kennedy was part of the team that helped prepare Hartsfield for the Summer Olympics in 1996. He marveled at how much has changed since then. The number of international passengers handled annually has tripled to more than 9 million since the airport “welcomed the world” almost exactly 15 years ago.

It still can efficiently handle the traffic, but more space is needed to meet projected demand. The international terminal set to open next spring will create “a new front door” and provide a “miraculous change” in customer service for global travelers, Mr. Kennedy said. 

He added that Hartsfield didn’t see a steep drop in international passengers during the recent recession, in part thanks to low landing fees and a large population of business and leisure travelers in the metro Atlanta area.

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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...