Delta opens fancier Sky Club built with airport money

Delta Air Lines is closing two smaller Sky Clubs at the Atlanta airport and replacing them with a new and larger club on Concourse B, built in part with $24 million in airport money.

The Atlanta-based carrier opens the new club Friday and threw a preview party Tuesday evening in the new space that drew about 600 people.

The nearly 25,000-square-foot upper-level club will replace two smaller Sky Clubs on Concourse B. It will be Delta’s second-largest, behind a club at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

VIPs at Tuesday night’s party included Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed; Delta CEO Ed Bastian and president Glen Hauenstein; chef Linton Hopkins; former Braves player Brian Jordan; business customers and local officials. They got an early look at the club, which features high ceilings, a large bar area, tall windows with views of planes taking off and landing, and plenty of seats with outlets.

Delta has several Sky Club lounges at Hartsfield-Jackson where frequent fliers and day-pass customers can spend layovers, use work stations and have food and beverages. The two older clubs on B had been “really crowded,” Sky Club managing director Claude Roussel said. Delta is spending tens of millions on the new club, he said.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is also reimbursing Delta for the structural expansion of the Concourse B building with a fourth-level addition at the midpoint for the private club.

Yolanda Adrean, who chairs the Atlanta City Council’s transportation committee, said at a recent briefing that she has a “hard time understanding how $24 million can be spent on a Sky Club.” The airport’s interim general manager, Roosevelt Council, told her it funded construction of a multi-level structure that adds 20,000 square feet to airport property, and that the airport had already planned to expand the concourse.

The airport can also generate revenue from a lease to Delta for that space and by re-purposing the old club spaces.

Reed said the airport, owned by the city, is spending the money because “the look and feel of airports is changing rapidly. Increasingly Hartsfield-Jackson is going to have to meet a different standard, an international standard that has a different feel than a lot of our customers are used to.”

Reed said the new club “has more of a feel of airports that you’d see… in Singapore or in Hong Kong or in Paris or in London.”

Bastian said the new club is “really designed for the connecting traveler,” calling the Concourse B centerpoint “one of the most trafficked intersections in aviation.”