Hartsfield-Jackson chooses new contractor for terminal-to-terminal shuttle

The losing current contractor, A-National Limousine, plans to protest the award to ABM-All N One Security Services
Passengers board the terminal-to-terminal shuttle at the international terminal on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2023.  (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Passengers board the terminal-to-terminal shuttle at the international terminal on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2023. (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has chosen a new contractor to operate shuttles between the domestic terminal and international terminal, a service that has prompted complaints from travelers this year about long waits for the shuttles.

But the current shuttle operator — longtime Atlanta-based limo operator and airport contractor A-National Limousine — plans to file a protest of the contract award, questioning the new contractor’s fulfillment of requirements for involvement of a small business.

A city official said all of the companies that competed for the contract met the requirements. But A-National Limousine President Darrell Anderson said he still plans to file a protest, seeking a review by the city’s chief procurement officer of the contract award.

The contracting dispute is the latest problem to arise for the terminal-to-terminal shuttle service.

Atlanta airport officials vowed over the summer to fix the long lines and wait times for the shuttles by adding shuttles and monitoring the service. However, some travelers say they have still experienced waits for the shuttles. Airport officials say they hope to improve the service under a new contract.

But Hartsfield-Jackson and the city have been mired in a lengthy process to rebid the contract, with multiple delays and redos. The airport gave A-National Limousine a contract extension through this year while the contracting process continued.

At issue for the new contract is a requirement that the company selected fulfill the city’s Small Business Enterprise requirements.

Anderson and his attorney contend that the winning company, a joint venture called ABM-All N One Security Services, does not meet the requirement, noting that ABM is a large firm.

“Why was it awarded?” Anderson said during public comments at a city council committee meeting Wednesday. “There’s no reason why this should be taking place,” Anderson is a longtime family friend of former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and has held other city contracts in the past for shuttle service to Atlanta’s central business district and curbside management.

But Bruce Bell, the director of the city’s Office of Contract Compliance, said during the meeting that only one of the firms must be certified as a Small Business Enterprise, and he said that requirement was met.

The winning company is a joint venture including All N One, an Atlanta-based contract security firm certified as a Small Business Enterprise, and New York-based ABM, a publicly traded company with $7.8 billion in annual revenue. ABM has handled janitorial services, baggage assistance, parking and shuttle service under different contracts at Hartsfield-Jackson over the years, and All N One has handled contract security services at the Atlanta airport.

ABM issued a statement saying: “As one of the nation’s leading providers of facility, infrastructure, and transportation solutions serving more than 75 airports, ABM, together with our joint venture partner Atlanta-based All N One Security Services, is honored to be considered for this engagement which would expand our partnership with the City of Atlanta at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in providing terminal shuttle service.”

Some council members on the transportation committee raised questions during the meeting about the rules used by the city for the contract.

“It appears we need to completely revamp the process,” said council member Keisha Sean Waites, who voted against the contract award to ABM-All N One. “The fact that we have companies that are bidding from out of state on millions of dollars in opportunities here in the city of Atlanta that could keep jobs here locally, is also troubling to me.”

But other council members said their vote on the contract should be based on whether the procurement was done correctly, rather than setting new policy.

The committee, which at one point entered executive session to discuss the matter because of the threat of litigation, ultimately voted 4-2 to move the measure forward to the full council for a vote Nov. 6.

The contract is worth nearly $1.5 million in management fees, and millions more in reimbursable expenses, according to the airport.

It’s yet to be seen how a protest could affect the award of the new contract.

Hartsfield-Jackson General Manager Balram Bheodari said the process will move forward until the protest is sustained. Even if the award of a new contract is delayed, “terminal-to-terminal service will not be disrupted,” he said.

While there is a Plane Train beyond the security checkpoints to whisk ticketed passengers between terminals and concourses, the shuttles take arriving international travelers with their baggage to the domestic terminal, where the MARTA station is, or to the rental car center.

Hartsfield-Jackson Chief Commercial Officer Jai Ferrell said the airport is using more vehicles for the shuttle service, and in the next several weeks plans to add screens to display wait times.

ABM-All N One Security Services was selected for the contract in competition with six other firms in the most recent round of contracting: A-National Limousine, MTI Limo and Shuttle, RTW Management Inc., Resource Management Systems Inc., SP Plus Corp., and LAZ Parking.

A review of the contracting process by the city’s Office of Inspector General listed observations including that the winning firm’s minority partner was missing a notary stamp on a form and had three lawsuits filed against it in the last five years. The Department of Procurement responded that the missing notary stamp was a technicality, and in response to the lawsuits said it would advise the airport to mitigate risk.

The independent procurement review report also said that a reference letter for the minority partner of the winning firm was written in December 2022 by a consultant who was hired by the airport in March 2023 and later attended a pre-conference meeting for the contract. The Department of Procurement responded that the letter of reference “had no direct bearing” on the contracting decision and that it did not find his attendance at the meeting “presented an opportunity to influence the evaluation process.”