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Airport celebrates milestone in construction of terminal

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport celebrated the "topping out" of the 1.2-million-square-foot Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., International Terminal on Tuesday, with City of Atlanta officials and local leaders on hand.

Ben DeCosta, aviation general manager at Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell, among others, signed the last steel structural beam to be placed into the international terminal.

"The Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., International Terminal represents economic stimulus, sound fiscal management, a focus on efficiency and customer-friendly design," DeCosta said in a prepared statement. "But most importantly, this facility represents a forward-thinking investment in the future of international travel into, and out of, metro Atlanta."

According to DeCosta, once the $1.35 billion project is completed in April 2012, the international terminal, along with the airport's current international concourse, will offer passengers a total of 40 gates. It will create one of the largest international air-travel complexes in the United States, he added.

Recent Federal Aviation Administration data indicates that international passenger volume will increase to 13 million at the world's busiest airport by 2015, DeCosta added.

Bell said he expects the international terminal, which began construction in the summer of 2008, will be an economic benefit to Clayton County and the region.

"It is in Clayton County, and we welcome [the] Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., International Terminal to Clayton County, and appreciate the airport for advancing an economic generator, which will be of significant benefit to us all in the region," he said.

Yulonda Beauford, president and CEO of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, said she expects employment opportunities will develop once the international terminal is completed. Beauford said she believes industries involving cargo and logistics could expand because of the international terminal, and as a result, Clayton County and the surrounding region will reap the benefit.

"I think it's going to have a ripple effect for business creation in the county," Beauford said.

Daniel Molloy, assistant general manager of Planning and Development at Hartsfield-Jackson, said $1 million, on average, is spent each day on the international terminal facility. He said the international terminal is "a new front door to [Atlanta] and the next big step forward."

According to Molloy, workers have begun to install the roof, and the window and wall systems of the terminal.

"Today is a great day," Reed, Atlanta's mayor, said Tuesday. "Because this is the next step towards bringing this project home."