Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, also known as ATL, is the primary international airport serving Atlanta, Georgia, and the surrounding area. It is the primary hub for Delta Airlines (the world's largest airline hub) and is a focus airport for Frontier Airlines and Southwestern Airlines.

Airport history

The airport was originally established in 1925 on an abandoned race car track called The Atlanta Speedway. Atlanta mayor Walter Sims signed a five-year lease with a commitment by the city to develop the property into an airport. It was initially named Candler Field after its former owner, Asa Candler, who was also a former mayor of Atlanta (although he was primarily known as the Coca-Cola tycoon). In May 1928, Pitcairn Aviation (later known as Eastern Airlines) began to use the airport. In June 1930, Delta Air Service (later known as Delta Air Lines) began to use the airport. It would serve as a hub for both airlines later on. By the end of 1930, the airport was the third busiest in the US, behind New York and Chicago. In 1940 the US government declared it a military airfield and began using the airport as the Atlanta Army Airfield in conjunction with Candler Field. The military used the airport to service military aircraft, leading to the airport doubling in size during WWII and becoming the nation's busiest airport. The Army Airfield closed after the war. In 1942 Candler Airfield was renamed Atlanta Municipal Airport. While the original nonstop flights didn't extend past Texas, St. Louis, and Chicago until 1961, the first trans-Atlantic flight was a Delta-Pan Am exchange through Washington in 1964. The first nonstop flights were to Mexico City and Jamaica in 1971-2, while the first nonstop flights to Europe began in 1978 and Asia in 1992-93. A new terminal opened in 1961, which featured six pier concourses emanating from a central building. It was the largest in the country, accommodating over 6 million passengers per year. In 1971, the airport was renamed the William B. Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport after the former Atlanta mayor passed away that year. The new Midfield Terminal opened in 1980. At the cost of $500 million, it was the largest construction project in the South, accommodating up to 55 million people annually. A fifth runway was completed in 2006, which allowed the airport to be one of the only ones that could accommodate triple simultaneous landings. A new control tower was also opened, and at over 398 feet is the tallest in the nation. In 2003 the Atlanta City Council voted to rename the airport Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, thus incorporating the memory of former mayor Maynard Jackson, who had past that year. In December 2015, the airport became the first in the world to serve 100 million passengers in a year. While historically, the airport was a hub for Eastern Airlines and Delta Airlines, Eastern ceased operations in 1991 because of labor issues. As no other airline successfully created a hub in Atlanta, Delta has a hub monopoly in the airport. In recent times, Austin's economic boom has meant that AUS is now seeing more nonstop flights than before (as airlines have been flying in directly instead of routing passengers through hubs in Dallas and Houston). In 2015 the terminal's first expansion was completed, allowing up to 600 passengers per hour to be processed. It also featured two new domestic baggage claim belts and a new security checkpoint. In 2019, a major $350 million expansion to the terminal's east side was completed, adding nine new gates to the existing 24. These new gates are spread farther apart, allowing them to handle narrow and wide-body aircraft. In March 2014, British Airways inaugurated the airport's first transatlantic flight to London Heathrow. While AUS had initially taken a hit due to COVID-19, American Airlines' desire to compete with Southwest caused it to increase its direct flights between Austin and major airports rather than focusing on its hubs as it had in the past. This has substantially increased the number of flights serviced by the airport. Furthermore, American is also in the process of building a 15,000-square-foot Admiral's Club lounge.

Airport location

The airport is located 7 miles south of the Downtown Atlanta district. 

Airport facts

  • The airport is the world's busiest and has been since 1998. It was briefly dethroned in 2020 due to COVID-19 but regained its title in 2021. 
  • It has two terminals with seven concourses and 195 gates, the most of any airport in the world.
  • The Transportation Mall is a pedestrian tunnel with a series of moving walkways connecting the terminals and concourses. The Plane Train is an automated people mover helping with the same purpose. 
  • The 9,000-foot fifth runway bridges Interstate 285, the nation's only civil airport to have a runway above an interstate.
  • The airport has its own train station as part of Atlanta's rapid transit system, the MARTA.

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