Lease agreement to ensure airport growth

The City of Atlanta has reached a leasing agreement with Delta Air Lines, AirTran Airways and Atlantic Southeast Airlines, aimed at ensuring continued efficiency and growth at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, said a city spokeswoman.

The agreement amends the Central Passenger Terminal Complex lease of Delta Air Lines, which was extended in 2009, said Sonji Jacobs Dade.

The partnership between Atlanta and the air carriers will also allow for the timely completion of the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal, by 2012, according to Dade.

Dade explained that the international terminal, at the world's busiest airport, will bring economic growth and development for the region, by increasing service to both international passengers and air cargo, as well as, providing more destinations and routes.

"I am pleased that the City of Atlanta, Delta Air Lines, AirTran Airways and our other airline partners have reached an agreement that ensures the viability of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for years to come," said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, in a written statement. "This agreement is a strong example of a public/private partnership, with the mutual goal of economic growth and prosperity for the Atlanta region, benefiting both its residents and businesses."

The lease agreement strengthens the fiscal position of both Hartsfield-Jackson and Atlanta, said city officials. Both parties will secure funding in the financial bond market later this year for the realization of a finished international terminal, they added.

"Under the terms of the agreement, the airlines will pay a supplementary terminal rental payment of $30 million, spread over a four-year fiscal period from 2013 to 2016, to Hartsfield-Jackson over the remainder of the current lease, which expires in 2017," said the spokeswoman.

The supplementary payments will help fund the international terminal, and will allow the airport to retain sufficient fiscal reserves to keep its credit rating, said Dade. The supplemental payments, paid equally per month, include $12 million in fiscal year 2013, $8 million in fiscal year 2014, and $5 million in fiscal years 2015 and 2016, she said.

"This agreement is the latest example of the partnership between Delta [Air Lines] and the City of Atlanta, which has provided significant benefits to the city as well as to Delta, our employees and our customers for decades," said Chief Executive Richard Anderson, of Delta Air Lines. "The completion of the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal will strengthen Atlanta's standing as a major international gateway, and provide a world-class facility for Delta's international customers."

"The clear leadership Mayor Reed has shown in coming to this agreement is exactly the kind of strategic vision and foresight needed to maintain Hartsfield-Jackson's position as a global leader and an important regional economic engine," added Bob Fornaro, chairman, president and CEO of AirTran Airways.

"Through this partnership with Delta, AirTran and other carriers, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is poised to retain and sustain its dominance as the busiest and most efficient airport in the world," said Robert Kennedy, interim general manager of Atlanta's airport. "The airport looks forward to working productively and cooperatively with its airline partners."