The city of Atlanta, which owns the airport, allows Hartsfield Jackson businesses to charge more to cover the higher cost of doing business there, with the facility’s security restrictions and environmental rules. Because of the pandemic, expenses and supply chain woes have increased, according to the airport.
Some of the businesses are paying higher wages to compete for talent. Still, staffing shortages have made it a struggle to reopen some businesses at the airport.
“We have done extensive research. ... We think this is the right thing to do to ensure the financial solvency of our concessions partners,” Hartsfield-Jackson general manager Balram Bheodari told city council members.
Raising the price cap also could benefit the airport. Higher prices paid by travelers could translate into higher rent paid by concessionaires, since rent is based on a percentage of gross sales.
Documents submitted to city council also say that if the price cap increase is not approved, some airport tenants will not be able to move forward with investing in new locations.
City councilman Andre Dickens, who was elected as the next mayor of Atlanta on Tuesday, raised the idea of lifting the airport concessions price cap last year before the pandemic hit. He said he wanted to consider the increase so airport vendors could pay their workers a minimum wage of $15 an hour.
If concessionaires “get more money, they could pay more money,” Dickens said in February 2020. “This won’t affect the Atlantans as much as it will affect the travelers. And travelers tend to have disposable income, business income, et cetera.”
But, with prices are up everywhere, the higher percentage price cap could compound price increases at the airport.