Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Former TIA head Louis Miller to retire from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Intl. Airport

Posted By on Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Lou Miller
  • Lou Miller
Louis Miller, the former embattled head of Tampa International Airport who resigned in 2010 and took over at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport just months later, announced on Monday that he will resign at the end of this year after just three years on the job.

From 1996 to the spring of 2010, Miller served as executive director and CEO of the Tampa International Airport, until he resigned under pressure after a confluence of negative stories began dogging him in the local media. But he rebounded quickly, getting hired as aviation general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson in September 2010, though at a lower salary ($221,000 salary in Atlanta vs. $253,000 in Tampa).

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Miller's most notable achievement in his three years in Atlanta was overseeing the opening of the airport's international terminal. However the paper notes that though when Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed hired Miller he emphasized interest in growing air cargo at Hartsfield-Jackson, something that has not materialized there yet.

During Miller's 14-year reign in Tampa, the airport's reputation blossomed into one of the finest in the nation, according to passenger surveys. But there were several issues that dogged him in 2009-2010 that led to his ultimate demise, such as the proposed razing of a $4 million building owned by the airport that had previously been used as a reservation center by Continental Airlines. The decision to do so was made unilaterally by Miller, who had only consulted with Authority member Al Austin, who owns property in the Westshore District. That led the Aviation Authority's to bring in an outside attorney to determine whether Miller and others may have violated laws regarding the way that zoning variances and building demolition decisions were made his time there.

There were also notable tension between Miller and then new board member Steve Burton, who pressed Miller to support investigating ways to bring more direct international flights to TIA, something that Miller had been resistant to, saying simply there wasn't sufficient demand in the marketplace.

After he resigned, the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority made it clear that Miller's successor would have a mandate to bring in more international flights. So far TIA's Joe Lopano has done that, bringing in Edelweiss for direct flights to Zurich, Switzerland and Copa Airlines to Panama City, Panama.

Less than two months ago Miller denied reports that he was contemplating retirement. Though Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said at the time that he was happy with Miller, the Atlanta news blog The Saporta Report reported that "several City Hall observers have speculated that there likely will be a leadership change at the airport by the end of the mayor’s first term, which ends in January."

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