Since a 97% drop in passenger counts in April, there has been some recovery in air travel. The Atlanta airport now has about 60% of its normal flights, but passenger counts are still only about a third of what they were before the pandemic, according to Selden, who described the airline rent deferral as “very important to us.”
The airport said in documents submitted to city council that the move is intended to maintain the airport’s financial sustainability, help airlines continue service at Hartsfield-Jackson and to mitigate airlines’ “near-term cash-flow challenges during the worldwide COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Delta and other airlines have received billions of dollars in coronavirus relief funding from the federal CARES Act, and Hartsfield-Jackson received approval for $338.5 million from the federal stimulus funds to help replace lost revenue from the sharp decline in travel.
The airport has also granted rent relief to concessionaires and rental car companies.
Separately, the city council approved a $125 million raft of funding toward a larger project to expand Concourse T with five new gates.
The council also approved a contract amendment to add $3 million for escalator and elevator maintenance at the airport’s Rental Car Center, which is connected to the airport via Sky Train.
That includes $1 million to staff the facility with a dedicated technician 16 hours a day, 365 days a year to respond when people get trapped in an elevator or the escalator gets jammed, which “can potentially endanger customers,” according to airport documents submitted to city council.
The documents cited “frequent failures” in its escalators and elevators at the rental car center, which opened in 2009, and “significant shortcomings” in maintenance, causing the need to replace parts of escalators and look for ways to improve reliability and safety.