Power Breakfast: DeCosta leaving as airport chief, home prices rise, Delta, Coke, Obama, Haiti, Google, Apple

There’s big news at the airport — Ben DeCosta will be leaving his job at the end of June as general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson.

DeCosta, 64, who’s managed the city of Atlanta-owned airport for 11 years, said in a statement Monday it was time for a “change in direction,” AJC staffer Eric Stirgus reports.

“The time feels right to now move on to new challenges and pass the torch to someone else,” he said.

Mayor Kasim Reed, in his fourth week on the job, said in a statement he will conduct a national search for a replacement. The airport, the world’s busiest, is one of the most important economic engines for the entire region.

DeCosta, a Brooklyn-born gadget aficionado, did not discuss his future plans in his statement, Stirgus writes. He could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

DeCosta’s announcement surprised some city leaders, such as Councilman H. Lamar Willis, who serves on the council’s transportation committee. The city is in the midst of building an international terminal.

DeCosta was likely the highest-paid employee on the city payroll, including the mayor. In March 2007, the City Council approved a three-year contract for DeCosta with an annual salary of $255,000 and a 4-percent yearly increase, Stirgus reports.

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4 comments Add your comment

bobby c.

January 26th, 2010
8:32 am

all i can say is ol ben will not be missed. a political move his entrance in the mix was a mistake from day one. the mismanagement/security violations, the news bad and worse always was met with it belonged to someone else, it was never the buck stopped at his door. and when there was a threat of a lady who knew more about airport management than he, he pulled in another political favor and kept the job that should have been give to someone who knew how to manage an operation.good luck Ben, whatever you do i hope it is not in the sector where managerial skills are necessaary

The Dogfighter Returns

January 26th, 2010
7:10 pm

does someone who earns 250k really need a 4% raise? :) the government is robbing folks and no one is paying attention. no city employee should earn more than $150k.

Steve VB

January 27th, 2010
7:07 am

People who work in the aviation industry and for airports knows how fortunate Atlanta was to have Ben DeCosta over the last decade-plus. Ben is one of the more thoughtful airport executives who understands the business and how it serves public goals through commercial means. It is easy to criticize from the outside but few truly understand how challenging it is to balance (1) operating the busiest airport in the world, (2) serving a hub carrier like Delta, (3) keeping the community’s interest paramount and reconciling that with the desires of the hub carrier, and (4) managing an airport during the industry’s most tumultuous period.

Whatever one’s individual opinions about the airport and the decisions that have been made, it is an appropriate time to say thank you to Ben. I have no doubt that he will continue to make excellent contributions to the industry and the greater community.

Name (required)

January 27th, 2010
2:26 pm

Ben will not be missed. He’s had 11 years to turn Hartsfield into a passenger-friendly airport and all he’s managed to do is slap the name of another dead guy nobody remembers nor cares about on the door. We STILL have no cell phone lot, the walkways from the parking garages to the terminals still cross the main thoroughfares causing traffic to stop (ever hear of tunnels or bridges??), departures and arrivals are on the same level, security is STILL one large clusterfcuk, one lane roads leading to the terminals. All the while his lack of a spine caused him to fold under the slightest pressure from Delta, leaving Atlantans with no low-fare carriers. So what exactly has ol Benny accomplished besides building a useless new international terminal? We already have a perfectly good one…it’s called Concourse E. Is he going to take credit for the 5th runway that was mostly his predecessor’s doing?

Oops…I forgot about the one beneficial thing he actually did do. The parking payment system redux, eliminating the need for the high-school dropout cashiers who never knew the meaning of the words “customer” or “service” and worked at a pace that make snails look like Usain Bolt.