The new international terminal officially opened for business at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on Wednesday. Airport officials say the new space promises to change the flying experience for the millions of passengers—even if they never fly internationally.
The 1.2 million square-foot facility has been four years in the making, and it carries a $1.4 billion price tag. A total of $1 billion of the expansion is funded by municipal bonds that will be repaid by passenger fees, while the remaining $400 million was picked up by the airlines.
Airport officials say streamlined travel is one advantage of the new facility. They also say it will allow more international and domestic flights into Hartsfield-Jackson and provide more jobs to the area for people like Derrick Smalls, who just started a job at a nearby airport parking lot.
"As far as the business is concerned, I hope that the business picks up a whole lot," said Smalls.
Aviation General Manager Louis Miller said the new terminal created 3,000 jobs during its construction. He said the airport is adding 1,500 jobs in the airport, including concession vendors.
Still others have their doubts, including the watchdog group Common Cause Georgia. They say the hefty price tag doesn't justify the additional fees charged to flyers and doubt whether it will encourage more international business.
"The case has been stated that this terminal was not needed, based on traffic patterns. It cost a lot more money than people were told in the very beginning. So we're left to ask the question why was it paid for," said Perry.
The new terminal adds 12 new gates to the airport, which already had 195 gates. The first flight to leave from the 1.2 million square-foot facility departed for Tokyo at 1:25 p.m. The flight is heading to Tokyo. Forty minutes later, the first arriving flight from Dublin, Ireland landed.
To get the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal, you'll need to take Interstate 75 to exit 239. Road crews unveiled new signs along I-75 leading to the new terminal late Tuesday night.
Some airport shuttle drivers told FOX 5 they were concerned that passengers could get confused and wind up at the wrong terminal, and perhaps even miss their flights. They do say that once you get used to it, getting to and from the new terminal is not a problem.
For those planning to park at the new terminal, Peachy Airport Parking has built a new 10-acre indoor lot located off of Sylvan Road for international travelers.
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