Hartsfield-Jackson to waive landing fees, cut rent for concessionaires

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is waiving fees and rents to help airlines and airport shops to reestablish services as people return to traveling. Lines at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport stretched through the domestic terminal atrium and down hallways early Monday morning as travel ramps up in a recovery from the effects of COVID-19. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is waiving fees and rents to help airlines and airport shops to reestablish services as people return to traveling. Lines at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport stretched through the domestic terminal atrium and down hallways early Monday morning as travel ramps up in a recovery from the effects of COVID-19. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Virus hits airport budget

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport plans to temporarily eliminate millions of dollars in airline landing fees and concessionaire rents to help restore services and allow the companies to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It plans to use tens of millions of dollars of federal stimulus funds to cover waived fees, rents and expenses for the next fiscal year.

“We are focused on retaining our competitive cost structure while providing encouragement to airlines both domestic and international to return and to increase frequency to ATL,” said Hartsfield-Jackson chief financial officer Greg Richardson during a budget briefing to the Atlanta City Council.

Rent from airlines for terminal use will be reduced by about 30%. And the elimination of landing fees is expected to reduce airport revenue by about $58.8 million. Last year, the airport deferred airline rent and landing fee payments as the pandemic reduced airport traffic by about 60% compared to 2019.

Granting rent relief will make it easier for shops and restaurants to reopen, hire staff and ramp up business, Richardson said.

Like many other companies, airport employers “are having issues with employee recruitment,” said airport interim general manager Balram Bheodari.

Hartsfield-Jackson received about $338.5 million in grants from the CARES Act last year, $75.8 million from the second round of coronavirus relief funding and expects to get $220 million from the American Rescue Plan this year. Another $55.5 million of relief funding is expected to be dedicated to concessionaires for rent relief, which airport officials aim to use to reduce concession rents to zero.

Airport parking revenue is projected to decline to $71.2 million for this fiscal year, down from $147.4 million in fiscal year 2019.

The airport’s personnel costs for this fiscal year are an estimated $2.8 million over budget, mostly due to hazard pay and overtime, according to Richardson.

Some concourses closed during the pandemic, but all of its concourses and runways are now open, according to Bheodari. Some airport-run park-ride lots are still closed and one international terminal security checkpoint remains closed due to the severe decline in international traffic amid COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The airport is seeing a recovery in passenger traffic with long security lines, parking lots filling up and rental cars in limited supply.

“We’re working hard to ensure that we have the appropriate level of staffing to meet this rapidly growing operational demand,” Bheodari said.

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