International terminal to open in May

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced a May 16 opening date for the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on Tuesday.

Previously, airport officials said only that the terminal would open in spring 2012.

City officials say a judge's decision Monday to deny an injunction involving concession contracts allows the city to move forward with the opening date.

“The opening of the [international terminal] is a major milestone for Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and the City of Atlanta,” Reed said. “The international terminal will strengthen Atlanta’s position as the capital of the southeast and a vital global gateway for the United States.”

He said Atlanta has been an attractive location for international business and tourism for quite some time.

Al Snedeker, an airport spokesman, said the terminal will help the airport receive its growing number of international passengers. The Federal Aviation Administration estimates the airport will handle more than 13 million international travelers by 2015.

He said Hartsfield-Jackson broke its passenger-volume record with its 2011 numbers and maintained its “world’s busiest airport” title. Last year, it received 9.86 million international travelers and managed 68,781 international takeoffs and landings, he explained.

“The Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal has a focus on efficiency and customer-friendly design, so it will serve our international guests well now and in the future,” added Louis Miller, aviation general manager at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Snedeker said the planning, design and construction of the international-terminal project created about 3,000 jobs.

The international terminal complex is composed of the terminal’s 12-gate concourse and the gates at international Concourse E, providing a total of 40 gates for international travel, he said.

About 1,500 people will be needed to manage, operate and maintain the complex, which will create as many as 1,000 new jobs, he explained.

The construction of the international terminal and its Concourse F began in summer 2008, he said.

Atlanta-bound passengers will not recheck their baggage at the international terminal, he added. Motorists will access the terminal from I-75 and take exit No. 239.