Compared to years where our list of countries visited nearly cracked double digits, Global Atlanta was relatively grounded in 2013.
Coming off two years of heavy reporting in somewhat offbeat emerging markets like Mongolia, India and Ghana, we stuck to a few mainstays while still attempting to branch out to some important new destinations this year.
All in all, we visited the U.K., France, Turkey and China.
Plying the British Skies
In April, our first trip of the year took us to the United Kingdom, where we sowed the reporting seeds for our new website, Airport City.
This publication is a response to what could be a change in the political air in metro Atlanta. In 2013, government leaders and other stakeholders began to come together to explore ways to use the airport as even more of an investment magnet, with the idea of sprucing up the area around Hartsfield-Jackson in the process.
At the same time, the United Kingdom, one of them most aviation-intensive economies in the world, was going through a contentious process of soliciting ideas for fixing its capacity problems, especially in London.
Heathrow Airport, the U.K.’s top gateway an the third busiest airport in the world, wants to add to its two runways to solidify its hub status, a proposal backed by Delta Air Lines Inc. Other factions want a new hub airport built from scratch in the Thames River estuary. Gatwick Airport, the second largest serving the capital, argues that giving it a second runway is part of the answer.
We dove headlong into the debate, visiting Heathrow and Gatwick and traveling up to Manchester, which is undertaking a billion-dollar real-estate project known as Airport City. (Manchester Airports Group, by the way, also owns Stansted, London’s third largest airport.) We even talked to then-U.K. Transport Minister Simon Burns.
Highlighting Atlanta-Paris Airport Collaboration
Later in the year, we doubled down on our airport reporting with a visit to Paris Charles de Gaulle, where we covered the third meeting of the Sustainable Airport Area international seminar, a partnership between the Paris and Atlanta airports.
In the process, we were able to take a look at developments around the Paris airport and how local governments are sharing both the burdens and benefits of the airport’s expansion.
Has Turkey lost its luster as an emerging market? That was the question we sought to answer in a country where growth had slowed and questions about stability were arising amid anti-government protests this summer.
We visited in July, after the worst of the clashes but with a few residual movements still going on. It was clear that this was not Egypt. Business leaders we interviewed were less worried about the protests sullying Turkey’s investment reputation than they were about the U.S. Federal Reserve tapering its bond-buying program.
But Turkey has hit a rough patch. It lost the 2020 Summer Olympics, which in September were awarded to Tokyo.
Our personal view was that this was a missed opportunity, but worries over the country’s governance challenges now seem a bit more justified. A corruption scandal unearthed in December has cast fresh doubts on the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hold on power as his Islamist-leaning regime continues to struggle against other strong factions, including those linked to U.S.-based Muslim preacher Fetullah Gulen.
Still, Turkey remains an important economy of more than 70 million people, and we later learned that Turkish Airlines is eyeing a nonstop flight to Atlanta in the next couple of years. We will publish a report on Turkey and interactions between Georgia and the country in February.
New Place, New Face for Georgia in China
In August, Gov. Nathan Deal made his second trip to China in as many years to inaugurate a new economic office in the country.
After its Beijing office faltered, the state chose to reboot in Qingdao, a coastal city known for its beaches and beer (Tsingtao).
Global Atlanta traveled there to cover the office opening as the only Atlanta-based news outlet to send a staff reporter. Seth Jacobs was introduced as head of the state’s new office in Qingdao.
While in China, we also traveled to the cities of Chengdu, Tianjin, Nanjing and Shanghai and will be bringing you stories on topics such as the rising Chinese middle class and more in the coming weeks as we lead up to our third annual China special report.
Looking Ahead to 2014, Latin America
In 2014, we will have a keen focus on Latin America thanks to our partnership with Delta Air Lines Inc., especially since Mayor Kasim Reed announced last year that he would work toward leading a delegation to Brazil. We also plan to potentially pursue stories in important markets like Israel, Vietnam and Poland.
Which markets would you like to learn more about?