By Toni Herrera-Bast
Birmingham Airport Authority
The Board of Directors of the Birmingham Airport Authority (BAA) has named Brakkam Aviation Management’s Miguel Southwell to serve as Interim President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport(BHM), effective February 1.
BAA is responsible for operating the airport. Brakkam is a full-service airport management consulting firm, where Southwell is President and CEO. He is a former general manager of Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta international Airport.
“It is a distinct privilege to have been granted this temporary opportunity to help shape the strategic direction of Birmingham’s chief economic engine,” said Southwell. “We are eager to get started”.
BAA has entered into an agreement for Brakkam to provide interim executive leadership services following the retirement of longtime BHM President and CEO Al Denson, whose last day was Jan. 19.
“The BAA Board felt it urgent to install an interim airport leader, which will permit us time to orderly recruit and transition to a suitably qualified new president and CEO”, said BAA Chairman Michael Bell. “In engaging the services of Brakkam, BAA is assured of having an experienced and highly qualified airport leader in Mr. Southwell; one who can hit the ground running to prevent an unreasonable interruption in executive leadership.”
BHM is a commercial airport serving Birmingham and its metropolitan area. It is located in Jefferson County, five miles northeast of downtown Birmingham. In 2016, BHM welcomed 2.65 million passengers, down 1.4 percent from the previous year.
BHM passenger traffic has steadily declined since its high of 3.2 million passengers in 2007. “Understandably, even as we move rapidly to recruit a new president and CEO, a key focus during this interim period will be to commence efforts to expand both domestic and international air service”, said Bell. “If Birmingham is to succeed in attracting new corporations and new jobs to our city, it is crucial that we increase the number of cities to which we have non-stop flights.”
Southwell has more than 30 years experience in the aviation industry, including leadership positions at airports in Atlanta and Miami. He is also a former adjunct professor of airport and airline management at Georgia State University.
In 2016, Southwell was twice named CEO of the Year by the Atlanta Business League. He has served on the World Governing Board of Airports Council International, the official global association of airports, and is a current Board member of Airport Minority Advisory Council that promotes opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses.
He holds a Master’s degree in International Business from City University of New York, and a “Driving Government Performance” certificate from Harvard University’s Executive Education program.