By Maria José Subiria
The world's busiest airport is preparing itself, and its passengers, for the grand opening of its much anticipated Rental Car Center in College Park.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport officials announced Thursday the start of a public awareness campaign for the center, and started the countdown to its Nov. 10 opening day.
Airport officials said the $640 million Rental Car Center will house all of the rental agencies currently doing business at the airport.
"This project represents a real economic stimulus by creating hundreds of jobs now, and in the future, when the Rental Car Center, and the nearby Gateway complex, which also can be accessed by the ATL SkyTrain, are complete," Hartsfield-Jackson Aviation General Manager Ben DeCosta said.
While the design and construction of the Rental Car Center has created about 850 jobs, it will promote the creation of more jobs through emerging developments it is associated with, said Al Snedeker, capital improvement program public relations manager for Hartsfield-Jackson.
DeCosta said Hartsfield-Jackson will be the first airport in the nation to open a car rental facility with an automated people mover at the same time.
"It can't be ignored that these projects will create economic stimulus," DeCosta said.
According to DeCosta, more than 2 million passengers use the services of rental car companies at Hartsfield-Jackson each year. He said that number is expected to increase 65 percent by 2015, and that the new facility will help reduce congestion created by the higher demand.
Airport officials said that once the Rental Car Center opens, passengers heading to rent a car will go to the west end of the terminal, and under the covered walkway, which will lead them to an escalator up to the ATL SkyTrain station.
The ATL SkyTrain will then take passengers on a five-minute ride to the Rental Car Center.
DeCosta said there are a total of six two-car ATL SkyTrains that will travel on the 1.5-mile elevated railway to the Rental Car Center. Each train can transport between 50 and 75 passengers, depending on the amount of luggage each passenger has.
The 24-hour facility will include a 137,000-square-foot customer service center, more than 8,700 parking spaces, two four-story parking decks and 58 fuel pumps, airport officials said.
"This provides a much higher level of customer service," said DeCosta.
Snedeker said Hartsfield-Jackson has not yet determined what will be done with the current area where rental car companies are operating.
On the net:
Rental Car Center: www.atlanta-airport.com/RentalCarCenter