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David Pendered

Atlanta to extend contract with company planning airport master plan

A manager at Atlanta’s airport awarded overtime hours to her husband, son and nephew rather than giving the chance to earn extra money to other employees, a city audit states. Image Wikimedia Commons user Iijjccoo.

By David Pendered

A Chicago-based airport planning firm that opened an Atlanta office in June is poised to consolidate its position to create the long-range master plan at Atlanta’s airport.

The Atlanta City Council is poised to extend the contract with Ricondo & Assoc. to create a master plan for facilities and operations.Credit:  Wikimedia Commons user Iijjccoo.

Ricondo & Assoc. will see its base fee increase from $3 million this past year to $5.35 million in the coming year, under a contract the Atlanta City Council is expected to approve Monday. The rate for the third year of the three-year contract is to be determined in the future.

The company is providing recommendations to shape the physical footprint and operations of the world’s busiest passenger airport. Ricondo’s work will influence the passenger experience during an era when the number of travelers is expected to increase by 30 percent, to 120.7 million passengers in 2031, according to the company’s forecast.

The master plan is important because it will bear upon the airport’s role in determining the region’s future prosperity. A report to the council to update members on the work completed so far is to be presented Tuesday at Atlanta City Hall at a meeting open to the public.

The Metro Atlanta Chamber formed its recent trip to China around the goal of exporting goods from the Atlanta area to the Far East. Trade will require the movement of goods and personnel by air. The purpose of this recent trip represented a shift from the chamber’s previous focus, which was to attract foreign direct investment to the Atlanta region.

The airport also has a role to plan in the commerce expected through the deepening of the Savannah River to accommodate larger vessels.

Agents will be required to facilitate that increased amount of cargo. Atlanta will be the logical gateway for the necessary personnel to manage cargo as it arrives at the port, and its distribution from the port.

Mayor Kasim Reed maintains that the business model of the future will be for corporate representatives to fly into a city, conduct their meetings at sites a convenient distance from the airport, and return home. Atlanta’s airport has to be positioned to serve that format, the mayor has said.

Ricondo’s main duty is to prepare the documents required by the Federal Aviation Administration. Atlanta has a duty to maintain a master plan because Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport has received, and continues to receive, federal funding.

In addition to current tasks associated with master planning, Ricondo is to prepare an economic impact study; develop detailed plans for vehicular parking and aircraft taxiways; review the new rental car facility; and help airport officials prepare the appropriate documents needed to fund airport projects.

This is how the fee structure has been comprised, according to a summary airport officials provided to the mayor’s office:

  • Master plan – $3 million
  • Accelerate T-North expansion – $250,000
  • Parking – $300,000
  • Cargo – $200,000
  • Economic impact study – $500,000
  • Peak week – $500,000
  • Off-airport opportunities – $100,000
  • Unknown/pop-up – $500,000

Ricondo’s comprehensive review of airport operation includes ground transportation. A report it issued this past autumn added fuel to a debate over a vendor with two airport contracts: To provide limo service; and to help travelers find limo, taxi and shuttle service. The council considered a proposal to change that situation and elected not to make a change.


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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