Hartsfield-Jackson calls for all restaurants, shops to reopen by August

Passengers walk through the domestic terminal during an early morning at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
Caption
Passengers walk through the domestic terminal during an early morning at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

With about a third of Atlanta airport shops and restaurants still closed amid the pandemic, Hartsfield-Jackson International is calling for all concessions to reopen by Aug. 1.

As air travel rebounds, the shuttered restaurants mean many passengers seeking food and drink options at the airport have faced long lines and frustrations at the remaining locations open on the concourses.

In a June 22 memo, airport manager Balram Bheodari told concessionaires that passenger traffic is expected to reach 80% of 2019 levels by July, and requested that all closed locations open by Aug. 1 and return to the hours of operation required in their leases.

“I am going to hold them to their contract,” Bheodari said during a recent briefing to Atlanta City Council members.

If concessionaires stop providing services, the city could charge rent and fines, terminate concessionaires’ rights and lease their spaces to others, according to contracts.

Andrew Gobeil, a Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman, said the airport is “confident” that concessionaires will be able to reopen and that it will work with them “to ease their transition back to business as normal.”

Bheodari said that of 159 food and beverage locations at Hartsfield-Jackson, 54 were still closed. Of 111 retail shops, 42 remained closed, and of 85 service locations, 19 were still not open.

The airport has seen heavy passenger traffic this summer, and for the July 4 holiday period from Wednesday to Monday expects to handle about 1.55 million passengers.

Many concessionaires face challenges in getting enough workers to staff their locations. Bheodari said that was why he was giving them several weeks to reopen.

The city also has approved rent relief for concessionaires, which were affected last year by a 60% drop in passenger traffic.

“It’s time for them to deliver for us now,” Bheodari said.

About the Author

ajc.com