ATLANTA — A sleek new $1.4 billion international terminal featuring airy windows and eye-popping artwork opened Wednesday at the world’s busiest airport in hopes of positioning Atlanta to attract more globe-trotting travelers.
The sparkling launching pad has been in the works for more than a decade at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Besides helping to grab its share of the lucrative and growing international market, officials also hope the vast new terminal persuades Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. and other carriers to route more flights through the city.
It took four years to build, in part because it’s so expansive that workers had to carve out a new entrance on a busy highway. Legal challenges threatened to derail it, and millions had to be spent on new signs simply to make sure travelers could find the place.
Funding came from $1 billion in municipal bonds, to be repaid by passenger fees, plus $400 million from the airlines.
The project is actually two behemoth buildings.
The first is a light-filled terminal with broad glass windows along every wall and separate levels for arriving and departing travelers to help untangle traffic. The second is a new concourse with 12 gates, giving the airport a total of 40 international gates. That will allow airlines to offer new routes and relieve the strain on the airport’s other five concourses that handle 2,500 flights a day.