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Diaz Departs Abruptly; Szczesniak Named Interim Director Of HAS

On Friday, Mario Diaz abruptly announced his departure from the Houston Airports System. Houston Mayor John Whitmire immediately named Jim Szczesniak, COO, as the airport system’s new interim director.

Diaz served as executive director for the Houston Airport System for nearly 14 years, managing the city’s three airports: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), and Ellington Airport (EFD).

Whitmire released a memo following Diaz’ resignation, calling him a “visionary and dedicated leader” for Houston. “As he embarks on a new chapter, I extend my appreciation for his contributions to the City of Houston and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” Whitmire said in the memo. Whitmire, who was sworn in as mayor in January, and Diaz reportedly had a contentious relationship and the leadership change at HAS was widely expected.

Szczesniak joined the Houston Airport System in February 2022 as COO. Prior to that, he served  four years as director of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC). He started his aviation career in airport operations at O’Hare International Airport (ORD).

“As the new Interim Houston Airport System Director, I stand ready to propel our airports to new heights and realize Mayor Whitmire’s priorities for Houston,” Szczesniak said. “I am excited to continue working alongside our committed team, who achieve remarkable feats every day. Our commitment is to exceed expectations, ensuring that Houstonians and visitors from all over the world can enjoy our exceptional airports.”

Szczesniak also thanked Diaz for his service and contributions. “Under his leadership, the airport system achieved significant milestones and set a strong foundation for future success,” Szczesniak said. “His commitment and passion have been invaluable, and I extend my best wishes to him in his future endeavors.“

In his memo announcing the leadership change, Whitmire expressed confidence in Szczesniak. “I am confident that Interim Director Szczesniak will continue to bring his track record of excellence to the Houston Airport System,” Whitmire wrote in the memo. “Jim will serve in the interim director role until being confirmed as HAS director by City Council.”