Southwell officially named GM, thanks airport employees for snow service

Filed in Employees, News by on May 20, 2014

Miguel-Southwell-fMiguel Southwell’s first official act as Hartsfield-Jackson’s new general manager was a fitting one: congratulating airport employees at a morning ceremony for their extraordinary service during the winter snow storms.

As workers were called to the stage Tuesday, May 13, Southwell greeted each one with a handshake and his customary broad smile. Scarcely 12 hours earlier, Mayor Kasim Reed selected him as general manager; the Atlanta City Council, however, still needs to confirm this appointment. Southwell had been one of three recent finalists for the GM position, along with the heads of the Oakland, Calif. (OAK), and Baltimore, Maryland (BWI) airports, but had overseen ATL since the retirement of Louis Miller in early January. Mayor Reed said, “I’m confident that Miguel Southwell is the right executive to continue Hartsfield-Jackson’s dominance as the world’s busiest passenger airport, and grow its capabilities as a leading global cargo hub.”

During his tenure at Hartsfield-Jackson, Southwell, 58, has stressed the airport’s role as an economic generator for the region, a vision shared by Mayor Reed. Since taking the reins of the Airport, Southwell has made his immediate priorities clear – expanding the cargo business and working to complete the airport master plan by this summer – while pursuing the long-term goals of growing airport revenue and leveraging Hartsfield-Jackson as an economic development engine to create jobs and attract industries to the metro Atlanta region.

“The real purpose of an airport is to serve as any community’s main economic development tool – to attract businesses to the area, to drive jobs,” Southwell said. In March, alongside business and community leaders, he helped inaugurate the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance, an initiative to spur development of high-quality corporate space in the communities surrounding the Airport.

And, last month, Southwell sought and received Atlanta City Council approval to launch a five year, $10 million air-service incentive program that’s part of a long-term effort to increase air cargo traffic business.

The incentive program, which begins this summer, will waive landing fees for one year for airlines starting new international routes not already served from Atlanta, as well as match up to 50 percent of promotional funds for new passenger service and waive aircraft parking fees for new air cargo routes. Additional incentives will be offered to carriers starting service to Brazil, Eastern Europe and other emerging economies.

“With this new incentive program, Hartsfield-Jackson will be better positioned to attract additional passenger and cargo carriers to Atlanta,” Southwell explained following the Council vote.

Southwell, who was named deputy GM at Hartsfield-Jackson in June 2013, had previously worked at ATL throughout the ’90s, spending 11 years in numerous leadership positions, including as interim assistant general manager for business and finance. In the interim, he served as deputy director of business for Miami International Airport and four Miami-Dade County general aviation airports.

A native of Antigua, Southwell holds a bachelor’s degree in Management from Portland State University and a master’s degree in International Business from City University of New York’s Bernard Baruch College. He currently chairs the Airports Council International’s Fund Council that provides training to airport professionals in developing countries and is the immediate past president of ACI’s Latin America and Caribbean Region.

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