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Companies protest bidding process for new airport terminal

Officials of the Atlanta International Airport believe that barring setbacks, the new Maynard H. Jackson terminal could open in May. With a total of 150 spots for businesses to occupy (126 restaurants and bars, 24 retail shops), the new terminal is expected to generate about $347 million annually in gross sales. But a contract dispute regarding the foreign currency exchange at the terminal threatens to damper the excitement surrounding the new terminal.

The contract dispute hinges on a company called Travelex, which says that they were wronged by the bidding process for the open currency exchange spot in the terminal and have not been able to build their appeal because the city will not release pertinent records. Travelex contends that under the Georgia Open Records Act, they should be able to see the proposals submitted by competing currency exchange companies.

The city claims that Travelex's protests are unwarranted and "based on speculation," and that it could open the city up to a bevy of contract disputes from other companies that lost in the airport's bidding process.

A Fulton County judge signed a 30-day restraining order, preventing Atlanta's Mayor Kasim Reed from signing the foreign currency exchange contract after Travelex protested. However, the order does not prevent Kasim from signing any contracts regarding other shops. The same judge who allowed the restraining order conversely denied Travelex's emergency motion in December requesting documents involved in their competitor's bids under the Georgia Open Records Act.

Three other companies have already protested decisions regarding their bids, though all three contract dispute cases were denied by the city's procurement chief.

Source: Atlanta-Journal Constitution, "Airport contracts still stirring protest," Jeremiah McWilliams and Kelly Yamanouchi, Jan. 4, 2012

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