Austin's airport is now operating under a new chief executive, while the assistant city manager overseeing aviation alongside several other civic operations has been named to that position on a permanent basis.

The specifics

Interim City Manager Jesús Garza on Jan. 5 announced a pair of personnel updates in Austin's city leadership.

Assistant City Manager Robert Goode, who'd been serving as an interim since last year, has agreed to remain in that role permanently—likely beyond Garza's tenure, as city officials ready to select a new city manager this spring.

Goode previously spent over a decade in Austin's government before he returned in 2022 to manage Austin Water in the wake of a citywide water quality incident and the previous utility director's resignation. He later moved into the city management position overseeing the airport, Austin Water, the Transportation and Public Works Department, Capital Delivery Services and the Watershed Protection Department.

"I appreciate the great work that interim City Manager Jesús Garza has done to identify key initiatives and priorities for the city,” Goode said in a statement about his decision to remain at City Hall. “With that focus, I’ve had had the opportunity to be involved with some of the city’s transformational projects in my role as interim assistant city manager. So, when he approached me with the idea of being named assistant city manager, I thought about how I’d like to see those projects through. I also want to provide continuity as we work to bring a new city manager on board in 2024.”

Goode is one of four assistant city managers each responsible for various city departments and operations. He's now earning a salary of $298,500.80.

The separate, now-vacant position of deputy city manager will potentially be filled in January, according to Garza.

Alongside the news that Goode will be staying on with the city, Garza announced that Ghizlane Badawi is now helming the Aviation Department as its interim CEO. She most recently served as the airport's deputy chief executive and has 15 years of leadership experience with the department overall.

"I am thrilled and humbled to be named the interim CEO for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport," Badawi said in a statement. "I want to thank City Manager Jesús Garza and Assistant City Manager Robert Goode for their support. I look forward to continuing progress on our Journey With AUS expansion program and to working with all our airport partners to achieve our shared goals of providing an exceptional and safe airport experience for all."

Badawi replaces former executive Jim Smith, who was appointed by Garza to lead the city's work at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport early last year. Garza said Smith will remain available to consult for the city as needed.

There's no set timeline for the selection of a permanent airport CEO, according to a city spokesperson.

The city didn't confirm Goode or Badawi's current pay as of publication time.

Zooming in

The Aviation Department's new chief arrives at a busy time for ABIA given record-breaking travel through the airport, a yearslong expansion project, and continuing scrutiny over recent close-calls and other safety concerns.

Before his departure, Smith also shared that other pieces of Austin's aviation management team were being shuffled to better meet strategic goals.

"This structure will enable us to adapt with greater speed, efficiency and capability in a fast changing world," he said in a December memo.

Beneath the CEO and deputy CEO roles, Smith announced a new executive team, including:
  • Chief Operating Officer Towanda Cordon, who'd been acting in that role since last February
  • Chief Financial Officer Rajeev Thomas, a longtime financial manager for the airport
  • Deputy Chief over Operations Loren Lintner, who'd also been acting in that role since last February
Smith also shared two positions now held on an acting basis:
  • Anna Trejo, acting airport deputy chief over finance, who Smith said has more than two decades of financial experience at the airport
  • Rick Belliotti, acting airport chief experience and performance officer, who's managed the airport's information technology since 2022
Additionally, the airport's head of administrative and external affairs, Tracy Thompson, will remain while that position is modified. Smith said the role was updated to focus on the airport's commercial development and management of revenue and its tenants, as well as government relations.