News and notes from Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport

Atlanta airport searching for new revenue sources

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is ramping up an effort to find new sources of revenue through a division called ATL Business Ventures.

The airport created a new position to lead ATL Business Ventures and hired Cortez Carter, a former executive from Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports, for the job.

Carter was managing deputy commissioner with the Chicago Department of Aviation, and more recently worked as vice president of business development for concessionaire SSP.

One of his tasks will be to consider opportunities for land the airport owns but which sits outside of the airport's boundaries.

The airport is also in the process of contracting with a commercial real estate consulting firm to come up with a plan for about 500 acres it owns around the airport, along with 10,000 acres in towns in Dawson County and 9,400 acres it owns in Paulding County. Three firms are competing for that contract: Jones Lang LaSalle, Avison Young and The Collaborative Firm.

Airport general manager Miguel Southwell said Carter's responsibilities will include looking at "non-traditional real estate development" and considering "how to take dormant assets and turn them into revenue-producing assets."

While the airport has had a deputy general manager of commercial operations, Southwell said the new position will be focused specifically on developing new sources of revenue rather than managing existing operations. That may also include developing new duty-free concessions lines to attract more international flights.

"It's too important to drive additional revenue," particularly with a capital program to spend as much as $7 billion over the next 20 years for a new runway, new concourses and other projects, Southwell said.

Hartsfield-Jackson also hired a new assistant general manager of planning, Frank Rucker, to replace Jim Drinkard, a longtime manager at Hartsfield-Jackson who has retired, and will oversee capital projects at the airport. Rucker is a former engineering director for Hartsfield-Jackson and more recently worked in airport planning in the United Arab Emirates.

"He has a reputation for getting things on time and on budget," Southwell said of Rucker.

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Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.