Atlanta City Council approves extension of airport concessions contracts

July 2, 2020 Atlanta - Travelers wearing face masks make their way at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Thursday, July 2, 2020. As passenger traffic begins to increase for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) officials hosted an informational media briefing to highlight new COVID-19 safety measures. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
July 2, 2020 Atlanta - Travelers wearing face masks make their way at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Thursday, July 2, 2020. As passenger traffic begins to increase for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) officials hosted an informational media briefing to highlight new COVID-19 safety measures. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Move is in response to business uncertainty amid pandemic

The Atlanta City Council has approved the extension of contracts for Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport restaurants and shops for up to three years.

The move puts bidding on hold for dozens of locations amid economic uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Contracting for airport concessions had already been delayed for years amid a federal investigation into Atlanta City Hall corruption, prompting many concessionaires to stay in their spots on a month-to-month basis. The most recent round of concessions contracting this year was canceled in June.

The Atlanta airport now plans to extend agreements for three years with concessionaires that have active contracts, and for two and a half years with concessionaires operating on a month-to-month basis.

Hartsfield-Jackson General Manager John Selden told city council members in June that contracts should be extended because of “an inability to get new concessionaires out on the terminal.” Many aren’t able to get financing for new locations, according to Selden.

Selden said last month when seeking the contract extensions that the airport plans to “analyze the financial landscape” over the next 18-24 months, then determine whether to put concessions locations up for bid.

He said extending the contracts would allow concessionaires to make up for revenue lost during the pandemic.

If a recovery materializes in the interim, Selden said the airport has 19 vacant locations it could offer for bid. That includes 10 spots that were used as smoking rooms before the city of Atlanta passed a smoke-free ordinance that banned smoking at Hartsfield-Jackson, as well as airline space returned to the airport.

The city council has already approved rent relief for airport concessionaires and airlines.

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