Ten days before leaving the Atlanta mayor’s office, Shirley Franklin signed a seven-year lease extension on behalf of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with Delta Air Lines Inc.
While she has been hesitant to discuss her legacy after eight years as mayor, Ms. Franklin was determined to sign the lease by Dec. 31, which a Hartsfield press release on Dec. 21 said solidifies “a partnership between the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the airline that has lasted 80 years.”
The city of Atlanta owns and operates the airport, which is financed by its own revenues. The current lease dates back to 1980 and expires in October 2010. It is to be extended for seven years.
“The lease extension confirms the airport will be a major player in the economic recovery of the city and state,” Ms. Franklin said, according to the release. “As Delta makes business decisions across the globe, the continuing airline/airport partnership will ensure Atlanta’s position as its primary hub.”
For more than a year, the negations between the city and Delta have endangered construction of the airport’s international terminal named for the former Atlanta mayor, Maynard H. Jackson.
Airport officials have faced an unresponsive bond market to help finance an $800 million offering for the project, which is to be completed by spring 2012.
Aviation General Manager Ben DeCosta said in the release that the lease extension is to allow “continuing investment in our facilities to meet the growing demands of an increasing number of passengers traveling through Hartsfield-Jackson.”
Last year, 90 million passengers passed through the airport and the number is expected to exceed 100 million annually in the near future.