The continued expansion of Hartsfield International Airport, including new cargo routes to Latin America, will benefit Atlanta‘s bid for the Free Trade Area of the Americas secretariat, said Robert Kennedy, Hartsfield’s marketing director.

          Mr. Kennedy discussed the airport’s growth, including completion of a fifth runway by 2006, at a recent meeting of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.  The new runway is to increase take-off and landing operations from 2,500 to 3,400 operations per day.

          “Do we have as many flights total to Latin America as Miami?  No.  Do we hit all the major cities in Latin America? Yes, we do,” he said.  “And Hartsfield has more service to Canada, as well as more domestic and international flights.”

          He added that Hartsfield’s strength over Miami, Atlanta’s main competition for the FTAA secretariat, remains its global reach, which isn’t concentrated on U.S.-Latin America passenger and cargo traffic.

          Latin American companies that establish a presence in Atlanta as a result of the FTAA would have better access not only to the domestic U.S. market and Canada, but also to markets in Europe and Asia via Hartsfield, he said.

          He highlighted the airport’s new routes to Asia, including China Air‘s recent addition of two cargo flights a week from Atlanta, as a key example of the airport’s growing access worldwide. 

He added that airport officials met recently with several Latin American cargo carriers interested in establishing more cargo routes between Atlanta and Latin America. 

          Although significant expansion will have to wait until the economic situation for carriers in Latin America improves, he noted that Hartsfield’s administration remains committed to increasing lifts to Latin America over the next few years.

          Mr. Kennedy is an advisory council member for Hemisphere Inc., the organizing committee for Atlanta’s FTAA bid.

          Hartsfield, the world’s busiest airport, served 76.8 million passengers in 2002, down from a high in 2000 of 80 million passengers.

          For additional information, contact Mr. Kennedy’s office at (404) 209-2954.