Int’l cargo puts Atlanta at new altitude

For the world's busiest airport, the status quo is clearly not satisfactory. Karen E. Thuermer tells us why.

International connections represent the path to the future for Hartsfield- Jackson Atlanta (ATL) International Airport. Th e airport is already the world’s busiest, serving more than 89 million passengers annually and connected by 34 passenger and 16 cargo airlines.

To meet future demand, ATL is undergoing US$6 billion-plus in capital improvements, which includes a new 12-gate international passenger terminal that is expected to open by November 2011.

Dan Molloy, ATL assistant general manager, estimates that the international passenger segment at Hartsfield-Jackson will increase from about 9 million passengers a year to 13 million by 2015. “Atlanta is emerging as a major international destination,” Molloy says.

Hub focus

This is good news for carriers such as Delta Air Lines that off er space for cargo in their belly holds. Atlanta is a hub for Delta, which is the dominant cargo carrier at ATL.

The new terminal coincides with Delta’s push to increase its international network. This year the carrier has been right-sizing its network by placing more emphasis on international service and eliminating a significant percentage of domestic capacity that indicate low yield and load weaknesses.

Among Delta’s new offerings this year is non-stop service to Shanghai, China, which commenced in April. The slowing economy, however, resulted in Delta decreasing its number of flights between Atlanta and Shanghai from 14 to 10. Delta executives expect to ramp up the service again, once market conditions improve.