Director Of Austin Airport “Resigns”

My home town of Austin has a new mayor and with that a lot of changes. We had a terrible ice storm that was handled poorly. At various times over 30% of the city was without power, mostly because tree branches froze and the weight of the ice brought down branches and with them power lines.

There’s been some finger pointing over the trimming of trees, and the extent to which the city blocked the city-owned power company doing proper maintenance. Regardless, the head of Austin Energy wasn’t ask to leave, the city manager was.

While the response to the storm was the story this coalesced around, the city manager also did an end run around the city council and voters in negotiating a four year police contract – in advance of a ballot measure that would have placed accountability requirements outside the realm of collective bargaining. The council had expected a one year contract, awaiting the results of the ballot measure.

The city manager, the ‘last mayor’s guy’ (just given a big raise!) was replaced on an interim basis by.. the head of the new mayor’s PAC (himself a former city manager under this mayor who been elected previously).

But that wasn’t the only head to roll. Once the new interim city manager was in place, the director of the Austin airport suddenly resigned earlier this month. Austin doesn’t have an independent airport authority. Like the power company, and the convention center Hilton, it’s all part of city government.

She was replaced on an interim basis by the airport manager who had been… appointed by this new mayor the last time he was in office.

It seemed pretty obvious that the airport manager didn’t resign, but rather “got resigned.” It turns out there’s not even a resignation letter.

The airport faces huge challenges ahead. It has been one of the fastest growing in the nation year after year, it is essentially maxed out on flights, and has a plan creeping along to address growth. Meanwhile the airport shuts down on busy days – a year ago there were stories of people abandoning rental cars in order to walk to the terminal to make flights – and the need for additional fuel storage to accommodate growth in flights got bogged down in city council politics. Even an Escape lounge (locations of which are now branded as Centurion Studios) fell victim to politics right before the pandemic.

Austin desperately needs an airport that’s run outside of city politics.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Let’s face it Gary, your city is a liberal cesspool that will just continue to spiral out of control until you elect some adults to govetn.

  2. @Dszerlag – the relative conservative is the one that was elected in the VERY close race!

    And a city manager colluding with police to make an end run around accountability efforts is hardly the hallmark of liberalism, right?

  3. And the power company needs to be run with less politics. I know a young person in IT in Austin who is moving to NC and going to mostly telework from there. Why? Because the price of his first time home still remains out of his reach in the Austin market and he mentioned how messed up the local politics has become over the all important infrastructure which was the final straw that provoked his moving.

  4. Like Gary, Austin is my home town too: I’ve been here since 1985 so I’ve seen a lot of change over the past 4 decades or so. Back in 1985, Austin was Democrat only in a slacker sort of way: Those that don’t understand can go watch the movies Slacker and Dazed and Confused, both filmed in Austin by Austin Film Director Richard Linklater. Austin was an idyllic place, no real problems of any kind, if we were asked about homeless people we could point to Leslie: A mildly confused cross-dresser who would ride a bike around downtown in nothing but a thong.

    Around 5 years ago give or take Austin received several hundred thousand refugees from the West Coast, who brought with them “West Coast Values” (including 1000’s of homeless, a new Soros-supported DA, and massive levels of crime). It’s hard to understand why the new arrivals would reliably flip the (D) lever (now hard left Progressive) in all of the Austin races, when they were fleeing the very cities that they had trashed on the West Coast.

    Gary is right that Kirk Watson has returned as Austin’s mayor, which is a good thing: He’s a Democrat, but he’s really centrist and compared to Progressives he’s more of a Republican. I’m agreed with Gary that it’s less than ideal for Austin to own the Electric Utility and the Airport (along with some other stuff), but encouraged that Kirk Watson is likely to improve on the current mess of things. Time will tell, in the meantime Austin is still a very special place.

  5. I worked for the City of Austin for three years at the airport. I found that most people were promoted because of who they knew or they fit “the box” that needed to be checked and thus were fairly incompetent. The City’s hiring process is painfully slow which leads to severe labor shortages. With the uptick in violence, homelessness, and liberal politics, I left and moved back to Wyoming. Austin is not what it used to be.

  6. New York, Chicago New Orleans, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle. What do all these cities have in common? They are all sh*tholes run by far left liberal Democrats for decades.

    They voted for it. They got it. Enjoy!

  7. 1. Liberals turn everything they control to crap. Buy the t shirt.

    2. “And a city manager colluding with police to make an end run around accountability efforts is hardly the hallmark of liberalism, right?”. What? 10% for the big guy? Russia collusion? Mostly peaceful protests? Liberals that turn stuff to crap will turn everything to crap.

  8. if you’re worried one airport might be in trouble… then dont watch the confirmation hearings of the nominee for faa administrator….

  9. Gary, 24 year Austinite here. Can you provide some sources for this comment, as it’s news to me… “the city manager also did an end run around the city council and voters in negotiating a four year police contract “

  10. Thanks for the sources Gary. It’s ridiculous that the police negotiated for a year in good faith with the city manager only to have the completed contract thrown out because he and the council weren’t tied out.

  11. @David – I wouldn’t exactly call it good faith, they worked to put a ‘police accountability’ measure on the ballot meant to confuse voters and worked on the four year deal in concert with the city manager precisely to circumvent the potential passage of this measure. And police in Austin have largely quiet quit…

  12. @Gary Quiet quiting or unable to attend to all incidents as a result of being grossly understaffed due to actions by the city council, or both? It sure didn’t help the situation when the city cancelled three APD cadet classes to revise the training. Would have made much more sense to let them graduate and take the revised training once available, which the existing officers would have had to do. At least one of those classes was cancelled while in progress and would have been the most diverse class in APD history.

  13. @Rjb – meanwhile, the governors of Florida and Tex-ass engage in human trafficking. Goes to show assholes are everywhere.

  14. “Austin desperately needs an airport that’s run outside of city politics.”

    Austin voted for the Mayor and it seems the Mayor dictates who runs the airport.

    Seems like Austin got what it voted for.

    If “un-fuck the airport” is a true top priority, find a mayoral candidate who can do that.

  15. Came to Austin because of the liberal politics and love it! Best city I’ve ever lived in. Bought my home and will live here for years and years. Very happy that MAGA/Republicans/etc have left, good riddance! Have fun in Wyoming, Tulsa, and Omaha lol
    I’ll take amazing food, culture, SXSW, and amazing tech hub.

    Austin airport is great. Easy and efficient, way better than that the terrible Miami airport I came from.

  16. @aaway

    Lol nobody but the most brain dead democrats still push that lie.

    They are just “spreading the wealth around”.

    Thank God for them.

  17. @Chad – Kinda like how only the most brain dead republicans still push the lie that 01/06/2021 in D.C. was just a tour group gamboling up the Capital steps, right?

    All those folks merely taking selfies on self-guided tours, bathroom breaks, and rearranging furniture.

    Or how about those “good folks….on both sides” down in Charleston? Thank God for them also, right Chad?

  18. Journalism or opinion piece? Seems like you’re using your platform for the latter. This piece comes off as venting.

    (From an Austinite… All is well here. Sure, the airport has growing pains, but I fly monthly and have no major issues.)

  19. Sorry @Jack: The Austinites that built Austin into the great city that it is are not going to allow newcomers to trash it with their perverse Marxist views. Go back to Miami where you came from.

  20. @TexasTJ and @Jack
    From Miami here too… hi fellow transplant! Glad we are both making Austin great and choosing to invest our money and live here. TexasTJ may not understand that. Like you, also glad about the Bluer and Bluer demographic!!!

    As to MIA, aside from TERRIBLE luggage service, I disagree. I fly American though, so I get the nicer terminals. It’s pretty good for a large airport.

Comments are closed.