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Former Hartsfield-Jackson manager steps in as interim CEO of Birmingham airport

Former Hartsfield-Jackson International general manager Miguel Southwell is starting a new job this month -- as interim CEO of the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Alabama.

Southwell, who was fired in May 2016 by then-Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, started a consulting firm called Brakkam Aviation Management shortly after leaving the world's busiest airport.

The Birmingham Airport Authority struck an agreement with Brakkam for Southwell to serve as the interim president and chief executive officer of the Birmingham airport effective Feb. 1. The Birmingham airport's former CEO retired in January.

Birmingham Airport Authority chairman Michael Bell called Southwell "an experienced and highly qualified airport leader and said he "can hit the ground running to prevent an unreasonable interruption in executive leadership," according to a written statement. A key focus will be expanding domestic and international flights.

Southwell in a statement called it "a distinct privilege to have been granted this temporary opportunity to help shape the strategic direction of Birmingham's chief economic engine."

In 2016 after his termination from the Atlanta airport, Southwell hired a law firm known for wrongful termination suits and whistleblower cases, which launched an investigation into the termination and sought documents from the city.

letter from attorney Lee Parks to the city said Southwell was told his dismissal was due to recent long lines at the airport, but suggested the mayor’s office wanted more control over airport contracts. Reed in June told Channel 2 Action News, “I could have pressed charges against him if I had chosen to do so.”

Then in September 2016, the two sides dropped their dispute and withdrew allegations of improper actions.

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About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.