A man wearing a mask walks along a crosswalk in a nearly empty airport arrivals entrance at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Tuesday, April 14, 2020. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

Hartsfield-Jackson budgets for plummeting parking, concessions revenue

Hartsfield-Jackson International may see a more than 50% drop in traffic over the next fiscal year, along with an even steeper decline in revenue from airport parking and concessions, according to early projections.

The world’s busiest airport handled more than 110 million passengers last year. But travel is down more than 90% due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For the next fiscal year starting in July, airport officials project passenger counts of 48.2 million, according to the airport’s proposed budget documents. That would be down 56% year-over-year, bringing passenger volumes back to levels seen in the late 1980s.

According to an airport spokeswoman, the projections were generated in the early days of the pandemic and “were very preliminary.” Revised budget figures will be presented to Atlanta City Council next month.

The City of Atlanta, which operates the Atlanta airport, has a 2021 fiscal year that runs July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. The airport is self-supporting, run out of a stand-alone enterprise fund separate from the City of Atlanta budget.

Typically, the airport brings in more than $147 million in parking revenue and close to $170 million in rent from airport concessions each year.

But now, airport parking lots and decks are mostly empty and hundreds of concessions locations are closed. The airport has granted rent relief to concessionaires.

The early targets are for $50.1 million in revenue from concessions and $63.5 million from parking in the next fiscal year — which would be down more than $200 million combined from the 2019 fiscal year.

Cargo volumes are also expected to decline.

Hartsfield-Jackson is set to get a sizable financial boost, however, from $338.5 million in federal stimulus funding from the CARES Act. To get the money, the city’s Department of Aviation must keep at least 90% of its employees through Dec. 31. Hartsfield-Jackson plans to keep headcount flat in the next fiscal year, according to spokeswoman Elise Durham.

The vast majority of the 63,000 workers based at Hartsfield-Jackson work for airlines, concessionaires and contractors. Many have been laid off. The City of Atlanta itself has more than 700 airport employees.

The airport plans to defer rent payments from financially strapped airlines for the April-June period — but the payments for landing fees and terminal rent would still be due Jan. 1.

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