Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has hired a consultant to develop a master plan for the handling of air cargo due to the significant growth of air cargo tonnage passing through Atlanta, Robert Kennedy, the airport’s spokesperson, told GlobalAtlanta.

The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s emphasis on making the area a logistics hub also contributed to the decision, Mr. Kennedy said.

An increase in cargo between 1999-2002 created 1,000 new air cargo jobs even though the major airlines were downsizing during that time, he said.

“The plan will help us determine where the airport is going and what we need to do so that we can remain competitive with other airports and help Atlanta expand in logistics,” said Mr. Kennedy, who indicated it will be completed by the first quarter of 2005.

Airport officials selected East Orange, N.J.-based Louis Berger Group Inc. to develop the plan because it put together an experienced team, of which some were executives in the air cargo industry, he said. The consulting firm was chosen from among four applicants that responded to the request for proposals.

Also, he said that during the master plan’s development officials will bring together all stakeholders in Atlanta’s air cargo industry, including airlines, freight forwarders, tenants and trucking companies, for a planning session.

According to Mr. Kennedy, the completed plan will need to be updated every few years.

The airport is currently undergoing a $6 billion capital improvement program to meet growing traffic and passenger demands. The expansion includes a fifth runway, an international passenger terminal and a consolidated car rental facility.

For more information, contact Mr. Kennedy at robert.kennedy@atlanta-airport.com.