Former aviation director Gittens hired by consulting firm
By Sherri C. Ranta
Former Miami-Dade County aviation director Angela Gittens is returning to the private sector as vice president of business services for HNTB Corp., a national consulting firm for airports, bridges and highways.
"Ms. Gittens has a proven track record in greatly improving financial performance, customer service and business diversity at the airports she has managed," said Evan Futterman, chairman of the Washington, DC, company.
He credited Ms. Gittens' 20 years of "globally recognized" expertise in airport management, operations and development in the company's announcement about her hiring.
Ms. Gittens, hired in 2001 as Miami-Dade's aviation director, resigned in November after conflicts with elected officials and American Airlines. She had urged the county to take control of American's $1.5 billion North Terminal project at Miami International Airport because of delays and cost overruns that occurred under the carrier's watch.
County officials in February reported cost overruns of about $256 million.
As of this week, negotiations between the county and American to resolve cost and control issues on the project are ongoing, said interim aviation director Carlos Bonzon in an e-mail sent Monday. "There has been significant progress," he said, "and we are very optimistic that an agreement can be reached subject to
approval by the Board of County Commissioners."
Mr. Bonzon, who announced in mid-March that he would not seek the aviation director post, and County Manager George Burgess are negotiating with American on cost-related matters.
Assistant Aviation Director John Cosper is point man on a second set of negotiations that involve Parsons-Odebrecht Joint Venture, which submitted the only bid to complete the remaining work on the North Terminal. The joint venture's bid was rejected, but all parties agreed to negotiate.
Ms. Gittens, in a telephone interview Monday from an American Association of Airport Executives meeting in Seattle, said her agreement with HNTB does not preclude work with county aviation officials, but she said she doesn't "expect to be working with anything in respect to MIA."
HNTB has worked with Miami International officials since the airport's development in 1954 and expansion in the 1980s. The company serves as bond trustee engineers for the current Miami expansion.
HNTB's West Flagler Street office provides design and services for South Florida agencies such as Florida's Turnpike Enterprise, Miami-Dade Transit Authority and Miami Dade Expressway Authority.
Ms. Gittens said Monday that she was not surprised to hear that Miami-Dade officials may be considering a takeover of the North Terminal project.
"That was my recommendation a year ago," she said. "The first person to say something is often vilified - that happens in life. We'll see what happens. What's important is to get the job done."
Ms. Gittens' work at HNTB will include business-consulting services with airports in conjunction with development programs. HNTB currently serves as consultant for 17 airports.
"Airports have to look out for their business performance," Ms. Gittens said. "They have to pay attention to the business side."
Some of her projects at Miami International included expansion of concessions at the airport.
Ms. Gittens said she plans to retain her primary residence in Miami though her office will be in Washington.
Ms. Gittens formerly was general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport from 1993 to 1998 and deputy director for business and finance at San Francisco International Airport.
She was vice president at TBI Airport Management, a private firm, from 1998 to 2001. She was responsible for private airport management contracts at several North American airports.
Ms. Gittens, Mr. Futterman said, brings a national perspective to HNTB because of her membership on the Federal Aviation Authority's Management Advisory Committee, the Executive Committee of the National Academy of Science's Transportation Research Board and the advisory council for the Federal Aviation Administration's Automated Environmental Design Too.