The opening of the rental car center at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport on Dec. 8 had both Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and the airport’s general manager, Ben DeCosta, reminiscing about their favorite pop songs.
For Ms. Franklin, it was “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s 1967 hit that Diana Ross recast in 1970, which came to mind.
For Mr. DeCosta, it was James Brown’s 1965 “I Feel Good,” and then before stepping onto the new ATL SkyTrain that would take him from the airport to the rental car facility, it was the O’Jays’ “Love Train” of 1973.
“You can tell that Ben and I are the same age from the songs that we like,” Ms. Franklin quipped during the opening ceremony.
The ATL SkyTrain, the airport’s new people mover, connects the terminal to the remote car rental facility along a 1.5-mile-long elevated railway.
The rental facility, a 10-year project from early planning to completion, gave local officials a positive lift after what had been a bumpy ride over the course of 2009 for both the airport and its two main tenants, Delta Air Lines Inc. and AirTran Airways.
Throughout the fall, the mayor and Mr. DeCosta struggled over a proposed seven-year lease renewal between Delta and the airport.
Both Delta and AirTran entered the fray, threatening to move some flights to other airports if they couldn’t maintain competitive costs.
But at the rental car opening, Mr. DeCosta couldn’t resist complimenting Ms. Franklin, whose second four-year term will expire on Dec. 31.
After commending her for “eight outstanding years,” Mr. DeCosta added, that she was the “best boss I’ve ever had.”
The celebratory atmosphere at the ceremony was contagious as 300 local civic and business officials looked on.
College Park Mayor Jack Longino, whose city council has often gone head to head with the airport over annexation and environmental issues, also had high praise for his “sister mayor.”
Both mayors spoke of the importance of the new facility to the regional economy and to easing traffic congestion and air pollution at the airport.
And Kevin Langston, the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s deputy commissioner for tourism and marketing, called the airport “our front door to the world,” with flights coming and going from 80 international and 150 national destinations.
Louise Fortin, director of trade at the Quebec Government Office in Atlanta told GlobalAtlanta at the event that Canadian businesspeople would appreciate the easier access to rental cars and that the facility would encourage increased trade between Canada and the Southeast.