Ben DeCosta, general manager at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL) for the past 11 years, will retire when his contract expires June 30.
During his tenure, ATL added a fifth runway, built a train system connecting the airport with the city’s convention center, navigated security issues and other hardships stemming from terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 and began construction of a new international terminal. He was ARN’s 2007 Director of the Year.
DeCosta, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment; however, in an email to employees, he indicated that he was proud of what was accomplished during his tenure but ready to confront new challenges.
“I have enjoyed my tenure at the airport, and it has been a privilege to have been part of such a collaborative, dynamic team,” he wrote. “Our work has left the airport – now the world’s busiest – in much better shape than when I arrived. … The time feels right to now move on to new challenges and pass the torch to someone else.”
Atlanta City Councilman C.T. Martin, who chairs the council’s transportation committee, told ARN DeCosta was a great contributor to the success at ATL and will be hard to replace. Martin would have preferred to see DeCosta stay in his position at least through the opening of the new international terminal.
“I would have virtually begged him to stay,” Martin says.
Finding DeCosta’s successor is in the hands of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who told media outlets in the city that he would conduct a national search. Martin says the council of 15 would need 10 votes to deny Reed’s choice.
The mayor reportedly has not set a timetable for finding DeCosta’s replacement. Calls and emails to Reed’s office were not returned. But Reed told the Atlanta Journal Constitution in late January that if it comes down to it, he has confidence in Mario Diaz, DeCosta’s deputy general manager, as an interim leader.
“The airport is in very capable hands,” Reed told the paper.