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Two champions of Atlanta’s business community said Wednesday the city has notched a huge win in its quest to be a major player in the world’s economic landscape.
Sam Williams, the president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and Ben DeCosta, the general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, said regulatory approval of the Delta Air Lines Inc. merger has major economic development repercussions for city.
“It’s the biggest business news since Atlanta won the Olympics, because it really connects us to the global economic capitals more than any city on Earth,” Williams said.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division ended its investigation into the proposed merger of Atlanta-based Delta (NYSE: DAL) and Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest Airline Corp. (NYSE: NWA). The regulatory approval clears the final major hurdle for the merger, which will create the world’s largest airline.
Delta is essentially the purchaser in the all-stock transaction. The airline will be based in Atlanta and be called Delta. It will employ 75,000 worldwide, and provide service to 66 countries and more than 375 cities around the globe. And Hartsfield-Jackson, the world’s busiest airport, will be the world’s largest airline’s biggest hub. “We think it means we are going to be more resilient and have more traffic despite the negative forces of a worldwide recession,” DeCosta said. It also enhances Atlanta’s “global reputation.”
Delta proceeded with the merger in part to fend off skyrocketing fuel costs and to better compete with foreign and domestic rivals.
With the rise of foreign carriers like Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Emirates Airlines Inc., who are well capitalized and lauded for their service, Delta needed strength to compete.
“Boeing is selling more of their new aircraft to foreign carriers, so the carriers who can buy new aircraft, they are competitive; and so this merger has the potential of making a U.S.-flagged carrier more competitive against other carriers around the world,” DeCosta said.
Though Delta has trimmed its domestic service, in particular flights on 50-seat aircraft, DeCosta said he expects international travel to boom. This comes at a good time as the airport looks ahead to the construction of its new billion dollar-plus international terminal. Having the world’s biggest carrier here also means new investment domestically and from overseas coming into Atlanta, DeCosta said.
“You couldn’t dream of a better international economic platform,” the chamber president said.
International trade starts with nonstop international routes, and Delta has recently added Shanghai, Dubai and Mumbai, in addition to several new Brazilian routes and a Kuwait City route just around the corner.
The second step is trade offices --Georgia recently opened one in China--and the third is consulates.
Brazil, one of Georgia’s largest trading partners, opened a consulate in Atlanta last summer. Williams said the state is extending the olive branch right now for an Indian consulate in the wake of the direct route to Mumbai.
“It certainly puts us at the top of the list,” Williams said of new consulates.
China has long favored Atlanta for a consulate, but Williams said the hold up is with our own federal government.
With Delta’s commitment to lucrative foreign routes, there’s plenty more good news to come.
“We’re going to see these things popping monthly on international routes,” Williams said. And with the downturn in the economy, he said, “it couldn’t come at a better time, my gosh.”
Though Delta will likely continue to cut domestic routes, including some second-tier domestic cities if the economy worsens, the losses will be outweighed by gains in international capacity and prestige, Williams said.
Now Atlanta will begin to be top of mind with investors overseas and business looking to open foreign offices. The merger, Williams said, is “a big boost for Atlanta in terms of putting us on the edge of the next cities in America for relocation of foreign business.” -------------------------- Georgia in running for new military center
Dobbins, McPherson or Gillem touted as ideal sites for relocation of U.S. Africa Command
By JULIA MALONE
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Washington — Five Georgia lawmakers and Gov. Sonny Perdue asked the Defense Department Wednesday to make Georgia the home base for the military’s new U.S. Africa Command.
“Georgia provides a compelling location” for the center, the officials wrote in a letter urging that Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Fort McPherson or Fort Gillem be selected for the center.
AFRICOM, as the joint command center is known, now operates in Stuttgart, Germany. The Defense Department, which so far has been unable to reach an agreement for a base in Africa, is now looking at possible U.S. sites.
That has set off an energetic competition for the center, which is expected to have 1,300 personnel, about half of them civilian. South Carolina officials have been pushing for basing the installation in Charleston.
Teams from the Pentagon have visited all three of the potential Georgia sites, said Lindsay Mabry, spokeswoman for Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the Georgia Republican who has been leading the effort to win the installation for the state.
Chambliss and other Georgia officials last summer argued that forts Gillem in Forest Park and McPherson in Atlanta would be ideal sites. On Wednesday, they added Marietta’s Dobbins base to the list.
Dobbins has a “substantial runway network,” a rail system and an easy connection to the Port of Savannah, which is “already a point of shipment for a significant amount of cargo bound for Africa,” and has 52 acres for expansion, they said in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Both Gillem and McPherson are scheduled to close by 2011, and plans are under way to redevelop the property. Dobbins continues to operate, despite plans to close adjacent Naval Air Station Atlanta.
Also joining the effort were Sen. Johnny Isakson and Reps. Phil Gingrey of Marietta, Tom Price of Roswell and Jack Kingston of Savannah, all Republicans.
The letter pointed out that any of the Georgia sites would have the benefit of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which has direct flights to Africa.
In an additional letter touting the Marietta site, Gingrey and Price added that the “Cobb County community is proudly patriotic” and would “welcome the addition of AFRICOM.”
Sam Olens, chairman of the Cobb County Commission, confirmed that the command center would be well received but cautioned that he was not counting on the new arrival.
“While we certainly would be thrilled for AFRICOM to move to Dobbins, I think the betting money has got to be on it staying in Stuttgart,” he said.
“They already have a very secure location there and much assets. … I’d be surprised if it came stateside.”
AFRICOM, which was formed a year ago but only became a separate command as of Oct. 1, is the newest regional headquarters for the military. Although the U.S, has relatively few troops stationed in Africa, the new command would be in charge of military relations with 53 African countries.
— Staff writer Dan Chapman contributed to this article.
Last edited by tonygeorgia; 10-30-2008 at 08:47 AM..
Location: Mableton, GA USA (NW Atlanta suburb, 4 miles OTP)
9,913 posts, read 14,646,897 times
Originally Posted by joe2000
if this thread was about job lost this thread would be at 5 pages by now
The first one *is* about job loss. Just not so much in Atlanta.
I know and have worked with a number of folks (flight dispatchers, load planners, etc.) up in the Twin Cities whose functional areas in the NW SOC (System Operations Center) are being moved down here to Atlanta, and hopefully they will be given the option to move.
Don't know about the many IT folks I know at NWA, though. Some are affliated with the SOC, and might have the option to make the move down here, while others are at the NWA computer center in MSP Building J and may stay up there. System consolidation will take a considerable period of time, years probably.
This is a win for Atlanta and Delta, certainly, but the Twin Cities aren't going to fare as well, I don't think...
The Delta/Northwest Merger is awesome for Atlanta.
I think AFRICOM would be great as well. And it should be located at Fort Gillem...not Dobbins or McPherson.
Located it at Fort Gillem would be good for Clayton County and the Southside.
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