When the Atlanta airport’s new Concourse F international terminal opens on May 16, it will add 12 international gates and create a new entry-exit point for travelers on the opposite end of the airport from the main terminal. The new facility will address a number of current issues but the $1.5 billion addition is more geared toward future travel needs.
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reports, the project is tasked with anticipating a new travel industry. “You can’t build something today that meets your needs for today,” said airport general manager Louis Miller. “We’re building for the future.”
When the project began in the late 1990s, initial cost estimates of a few hundred million dollars had the new Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal opening in 2006. Now six years late, the facility will eliminate the current baggage claim setup for Atlanta-bound international travelers, who must recheck their baggage before a train ride to the distant main terminal after clearing customs.
That’s a good, immediate improvement for international travelers but the additional gates will not only provide more capacity for international flights but also open space for domestic flights.
“At peak hours, we have a need for additional facilities,” Miller said. “But we’re really looking toward the future.”
Delta, the airport’s biggest airline, thinks the new concourse will operate near capacity several times a day. Spokesman Trebor Banstetter told AJC that operating flights out of the new concourse would give its top customers access to the “world-class facility” and its new Sky Club lounge.
“We want our best customers to be in this facility,” Banstetter said.
Colorado-based aviation consultant Mike Boyd believes future growth in Atlanta’s operations will continue, propelling the facility into much more than it is today.
“The reality is, if we don’t build these things, you’re going to find yourself way behind the curve,” Boyd said. “Atlanta is still going to grow … Delta is going to turn Atlanta into what we call a global portal, where there will be enormous amounts of traffic flows going all over Latin America and all over Asia.”
[Flickr photo via redlegsfan21]