Atlanta airport concessionaires set to get rent relief amid sharp decline in traffic

Move is in response to the drop in travel due to the coronavirus
Starbucks is closed at arrival area of Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal on Saturday, March 14, 2020. (Hyosub Shin /



Starbucks is closed at arrival area of Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal on Saturday, March 14, 2020. (Hyosub Shin /

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport concessionaires and rental car agencies are set to get rent relief as travel plummets due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Atlanta City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of a measure to suspend minimum rent requirements for Atlanta airport shops, restaurants and rental car companies from March through June. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Wednesday that she signed the legislation.

Those businesses would instead pay their rent as a percentage of revenue, but would not be subject to a minimum flat payment if business falls below that level.

"Essentially this is a step to help businesses continue their services to they can keep people employed," said Andre Dickens, chair of the city council transportation committee, which oversees the airport. "As many employees as we can preserve with this low amount of passengers, we will do so."

The measure, which was developed with the mayor’s administration and allows the city to renegotiate about 40 airport contracts, will need to be disclosed to airport bondholders, according to city officials. The rent relief could be extended for another month beyond June if the COVID-19 pandemic has not subsided.

“We are asking our business partners to continue showing compassion toward their employees, and when possible, provide continuity of pay for their hourly associates,” Bottoms said in a written statement.

City of Atlanta Chief Financial Officer Roosevelt Council said the airport has done an analysis of the rent amendment and estimates the rent relief could reduce airport revenue by about $12 million annually, out of total airport projected revenue of $587 million. He said the primary impact would be to reduce the airport’s projected $125 million surplus used for capital improvement projects.

Dickens said concessionaires are telling him their business is down by around 50%. "It's getting worse and worse. These guys are getting more and more dire information," he said.

He said concessionaires are also in discussions to change their required hours of operation because of a reduction in late-night flights that leaves fewer customers in the airport during those hours.

Hartsfield-Jackson general manager John Selden said in a written statement that the airport is working with the mayor on a plan to issue advanced credits to those concessionaires for immediate rent relief.

However, several days after the measure passed, rental car workers were already being affected by the decline in travel.

Golden Gate America East LLC, which moves rental car fleets at Hartsfield-Jackson, disclosed cuts that will affect 378 workers as of March 22, according to a state Department of Labor business layoff and closure listing.

Concessionaires have also laid off workers as many restaurants and shops close at the Atlanta airport.

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