Atlanta council approves airport concessions deal

By a 12-3 vote, the Atlanta City Council on Tuesday approved a $3 billion concessions deal for Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

“Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the economic engine not only for the City of Atlanta and the metropolitan region, but also for the state of Georgia,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said in a news release. “These new concessions contracts will generate $51 million in annual revenues, an increase of more than $23 million, and ensure that the 90 million travelers who pass through Hartsfield-Jackson each year have world-class food, beverage and retail options.

“With the opening of the new Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International terminal this spring, Atlanta’s position as the global capital of the Southeast will be secure for decades to come,” Reed added.

Critics argued for more time to review the bids. As the Columbus Ledger Enquirer noted in an editorial (as published in the Marietta Daily Journal):

The immediate concern, however, doesn’t require historical context. Common Cause noted in a Wednesday news release that the city council’s transportation committee received a package of proposed contract winners shortly before midnight on Dec. 14 for a vote the next morning, just two days before the city government’s Christmas recess. The committee immediately scheduled a vote by the full council for Tuesday — the first day after the holiday. “That leaves only three council business days,” CCGA noted, “to consider the largest airport concession selection process in North American aviation history.”

Officials, meanwhile, contend the process was open and transparent.

“This has been the most transparent and open procurement process I have been a part of in my more than 30 years in the aviation industry,” Louis Miller, aviation general manager, said in a news release. “We are pleased that our new concessions program has been approved, and we can move forward in providing our customers with an exciting array of new dining and retail options in the coming months. The food and beverage program will create a sense of place for our customers and will offer a variety of new and local restaurateurs and companies to the airport.”

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