Atlanta Airport Official: Candor Cost Job

A longtime manager at Atlanta's city-owned airport said he was fired last week for speaking out about corruption.

Steven K. Yates was a transit systems manager in the city's Aviation Department until he was dismissed, after years of making complaints about the way the airport has been run.

"I'm in direct opposition to the way the airport is being managed right now," Yates said during a telephone interview Tuesday from his lawyer's office. He alleged corruption and mismanagement have endured since before Mayor Shirley Franklin took office.

"Things at the airport are the same as when Bill Campbell was mayor," he said, referring to the former mayor who was convicted of tax evasion earlier this month but acquitted of corruption charges.

The airport's general manager, Ben DeCosta, declined to comment about Yates' firing, saying it could end up in court. "It's more than likely going to be a litigated matter," DeCosta said.

Nearly two years ago, Yates asserted in a letter to Franklin that the planned construction of an international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport would serve little purpose. In an interview at the time about the May 24, 2004, letter, he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the city should instead build more domestic gates.

Yates, 58, oversaw operations of the underground trains that whisk passengers between concourses. He said he's complained for years that the airport should do more to foster competition among domestic carriers. The airport should expand the number of domestic gates to create competition for the dominant carrier, Delta Air Lines, he said.

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