Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at night. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says big changes are coming.
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Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at night. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says big changes are coming.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said big changes are in store for Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport with the ouster of general manager Miguel Southwell.

Though Reed did not give specifics as to why he fired Southwell last Friday, he did give a picture of the impacts the change would have.

“I think that you’re going to see pretty significant changes as it relates to TSA, the handling of the lines, cleanliness of the property: really basic stuff,” Reed said. “[That’s] stuff that can get away from you if you get comfortable. My conversation with my team is: it’s not going to get comfortable.”

Reed said former Hartsfield-Jackson CFO Roosevelt Council would fill in as interim general manager.

He said Council would work to make the Atlanta airport a higher priority for the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security and focus more on customer service and cleanliness.

News of the management change comes in the midst of the upgrades to the airport’s south security checkpoint that include installing new screening equipment. That work has led to long security lines despite the opening of more security lanes in other screening areas.

Reed recently called the long lines unacceptable and reiterated that point Monday.

“I want the lines at the airport resolved, and I’m ready to put skin in the game,” he said.

Reed said that means taking a closer look at privatizing airport security. He said he’d been in talks with San Francisco International Airport, which uses private security.

He also said the city was considering using shuttles to send passengers from the domestic terminal to the international terminal, which often has shorter security lines.

Hartsfield-Jackson is also awaiting a $6 billion facelift, which will include a new concourse, a sixth runway, a 400-room hotel, and atrium upgrades.

City and airport officials have said they expect the work to take 20 years. Reed said the upgrades won’t be impacted by Southwell’s departure.