August 8, 2019, 2019 - Atlanta - Catherine Sirna (center), a Delta employee, takes ice cream orders out on the tarmac. After a hot summer of heaving heavy bags at the world’s busiest airport, Delta thanked its baggage handlers with cold drinks, ice cream and juice bars at an end-of-summer event on the tarmac Thursday. Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com

Ramp workers keep world’s busiest airport running through busy summer

With full planes and millions of passengers traveling through Atlanta in the busy summer months, it takes thousands of workers working to keep the world’s busiest airport running.

Ramp agents who work on the tarmac at Hartsfield-Jackson International “are sometimes the unsung heroes of the airport,” said Delta’s vice president of Atlanta airport operations Matt Sparks. “There’s not a single flight that would go out and you would never receive a single bag if not for all the agents working to make that happen.”

Employees from Delta’s headquarters next to the Atlanta airport served ice cream to Delta workers on the Concourse D tarmac on Thursday to show appreciation for their work through a hot, hectic summer with record traffic. About 6,000 Delta employees work at its largest airport hub, known within the company as the Atlanta Worldport.

Working on the tarmac through the heat, humidity and thunderstorms of an Atlanta summer is tough, said Delta’s chief marketing and communications officer Tim Mapes. And with the volume of passengers coming through, “it’s been brutal,” he said.

With airport vehicles and huge airplanes moving across the tarmac and thousands of bags to process, “you have to be focused. You have to have very good attention to detail,” said ramp agent Broderick Sutherland while stopping for ice cream. “It’s nice to be rewarded and see that our hard work has not gone unnoticed.”

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