Atlanta Hartsfield Has Big Plans for 2011

The World’s busiest airport is getting billions in improvements over the next few years. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported last week on the progress.

“You’ll get there from a different interstate, and you won’t have to recheck your baggage.

Those are two big changes globe-trotting travelers can expect to see by November 2011 when Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport opens its new 12-gate international terminal, a soaring glass wing of a building that will cost more than a billion dollars.

The Atlanta City Council’s Transportation Committee on Wednesday approved about $1.2 billion for construction of the long-anticipated terminal, which has been discussed since the late 1990s. Roadways, underground trains and other costs will push the cost to about $1.6 billion —- twice the original estimate a decade ago.

“This will give us the ability to reach to every corner of the globe,” airport General Manager Ben DeCosta said.

Fliers will approach the Maynard Holbrook Jackson Jr. International Terminal —- named for Atlanta’s late mayor —- from I-75. And because there is curbside pickup, arriving international travelers will not have to recheck their bags as they now do.

The new terminal will have its own gates and parking deck, and will be accessed via I-75. It will be connected to the main terminal through an underground train that connects the new facility and Concourse E, whose 28 gates will be used for international and domestic flights.

Dan Molloy, the airport’s assistant general manager, said international traffic at Hartsfield-Jackson will increase from about 9 million passengers a year to 13 million by 2015.

“Atlanta is emerging as a major international destination,” Molloy said.

The new terminal coincides with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines’ push to vastly increase its profitable international business. Delta begins nonstop service to Shanghai, China, next month, a move that will open major Asian markets to the region.