As Uber and Lyft grow, Hartsfield-Jackson scraps plans to expand parking decks

Parking deck at Hartsfield-Jackson. JASON GETZ / AJC

Parking deck at Hartsfield-Jackson. JASON GETZ / AJC

As the increased use of Uber and Lyft drives down demand for airport parking, Hartsfield-Jackson International is scrapping plans to demolish and rebuild its decks at the domestic terminal.

The world’s busiest airport developed plans several years ago to double the size of the Terminal South and Terminal North parking decks to accommodate more cars.

But airport officials eventually down-scaled those plans — first shifting from two proposed eight-level parking decks to one at Terminal South, where Delta operates, and a smaller four-level parking deck at Terminal North. Then in 2018, as the popularity of ride-share services grew and the prospect of self-driving cars advanced, officials began reevaluating the plans for the South side.

Last year, Hartsfield-Jackson general manager John Selden said that airport parking revenue had begun to decline.

On Wednesday, he told the Atlanta City Council transportation committee that revenue has continued to decrease. Airport car rentals also have declined.

Parking was also affected by the closure of some lots due to several construction projects.

“But our parking lots are not necessarily overflowing,” Selden said. “People are just not parking.”

Instead of rebuilding the domestic terminal parking decks, the airport is now looking at “renovating them to possibly get another 10 or 15 years out of them,” he said.

The original plans would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, which “the business case just doesn’t support,” Selden said. “We’re going to extend the life of the ones we have.”

Passenger traffic at Hartsfield-Jackson grew to 110.5 million passengers in 2019, Selden said. Due to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max, it fell short of the 111 million passengers originally expected, he said. Selden also told the committee construction of a Hilton hotel will begin in late spring or early summer.

While the airport is losing thousands of parking spaces to make way for construction of airport expansion projects, it is adding some back with the construction of the ATL West parking deck, connected to the airport via SkyTrain.

That new remote parking deck is expected to be complete by September, adding 5,700 spaces with technology for drivers to use their Peach Pass and license plate readers.