Passengers spent an average of $11.87 on food, beverages, shopping and services at Hartsfield-Jackson International in 2018, according to a year-end report on the airport’s concessions revenue.
Spending at airport restaurants and shops had been increasing in recent years, though last year the growth halted.
The $11.87 concessions revenue per passenger boarding a plane was down slightly from $11.91 in 2017. The total includes food and beverage, retail, the Georgia Lottery and services like spas, currency exchange and shoeshine. The airport said the revenue per passenger was “relatively flat” amid 3.3 percent growth in passenger counts.
The Atlanta airport’s standard is that airport restaurants and eateries should not charge prices more than 10 percent higher than comparable street locations.
But a city of Atlanta audit in 2016 found that the airport had not been consistent in checking restaurant prices.
The audit also found that a sampling showed that about half of 22 items checked had prices more than 10 percent above local prices.
Examples in the audit report: An Asian chopped chicken salad that typically goes for $7.49 costs $9.29 at the airport. A combo meal with a local price of $6.76 costs $7.99 at the airport. A chicken entree that costs $8.69 at a local store costs $9.99 at the airport.
Hartsfield-Jackson said at the time that monitoring prices “requires constant vigilance on the part of the airport,” and struck a $340,000 contract with a company to do market basket pricing surveys.
“There is a distinct perception among the public that airports are overcharging,” airport documents for the contract said.
Airports focus heavily on growing revenue from concessions. Hartsfield-Jackson brings in $1 billion in revenue from concessions and car rentals annually.
At the airport, contracting for new concessions has been on hold for well over a year, amid controversy over airport contracts and a federal investigation into corruption at Atlanta City Hall.
More than 80 new shops throughout the airport, new restaurants on Concourse E and other new restaurant spots have been on hold since 2016 and 2017.
Some of the restaurant contracts were put on hold after the 2016 firing of the airport manager at the time, Miguel Southwell. Others were put on hold amid the 2017 mayoral election.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has said she plans to rebid the contracts under a revamped city contracting process. Airport officials said they plan to restart the contracting process for restaurants on Concourses E and B around late April and for the shops throughout the airport this summer.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.