New manager at Hartsfield staying busy
by Bill Kinney
July 28, 2012 11:08 PM | 1664 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bill Kinney
Bill Kinney
Hartsfield Jackson International Airport has been a world-class airport for a long time. But now it’s finally got an international terminal that’s world-class as well.

The new international terminal opened May 16 at Atlanta’s airport. It is a huge 1.2 million square feet in size and cost $1.4 billion to build, although none of that cost was paid for with local tax dollars, HJ general manager Louis Miller told the Marietta Rotary Club earlier this month.

“It gives us a 40-gate international terminal complex, one of the largest in the U.S.,” Miller said. There were already 24 international gates to go with the 12 new ones. All told, Hartsfield Jackson now has 215 gates. No wonder it can hold the title of the “busiest airport in the world.”

The new terminal is reducing congestion and has arrivals and departures on separate levels. It also features eight new security checkpoints.

“What’s most important is eliminating baggage recheck,” Miller said. “It used to be that when you got back from overseas you’d take your bag and recheck it through Customs, then go through security again, take the train system back up to the domestic terminal and get your bag off the bag claim. That could add 45 minutes to an hour to your trip. That’s all gone now. Once you go through Customs you just go out the front door of the airport, so that’s working very well.”

Also, Hartsfield added two parking decks with more than 4,500 spaces in connection with the new terminal, plus 20 new shopping and dining locations on the concourse. All told, the terminal will mean an additional 1,500 jobs.

Hartsfield is staying busy. There were 920,000 landings and takeoffs last year, an average of 250,000 passengers per day. On busy days, though, that number climbs to 350,000. It now offers non-stop flights to 156 U.S. cities, plus 80 international cities in 50 countries.

The total airport square footage has grown to 6.8 million scattered across 407 acres, Miller said.

It has been the busiest airport in the world for 13 years now, he said. A record 90 million passengers flew in or out of Hartsfield in 2008, but that number dipped in 2009 and 2010 due to economy. But last year the number was up to 92.4 million. The world’s next-busiest airport, he said, is Beijing, at 74 million.

The airport had a $32.6 billion impact on the area economy in 2009, with some 58,000 employees, including 4,500 from Cobb. More than $16 billion in personal income is generated by the airport, he said.

Future projects include expanding a runway at a cost of $30 million to enable Hartsfield to handle the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft. Korean Air is expected to start flying the plane from Hartsfield next year, he said. It’s even bigger than the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy cargo jet, hard as that is to imagine.

And if you should decide to fly (as a passenger), what dates are the best to go?

The busiest parts of the week are Monday mornings and Friday evenings, Hill said. The least busy times are Tuesday-Thursday. Happy flying!

Bill Kinney is associate editor of the MDJ.
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