by: Tony Thomas Updated:
ATLANTA - Thursday marks the beginning of the big crunch for holiday travelers at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Just three years ago, 65 out of every 1,000 flights in and out of Hartsfield-Jackson were behind schedule. Last year, the airlines and air traffic controllers got it down to 12 per every 1,000. This year, only 11 or 12 per 1000 are being delayed.
"We are not happy with the 13, we are working towards zero," said Air Traffic Manager Rich McClelland. He attributes the drop to changes in technology that allow additional departure paths and the creation of a fifth runway as helping.
"We are moving more airplanes than we ever have," said air traffic controller and union leader Brain Wilante. He said passengers are in good hands the moment they push back from the gate in Atlanta.
This is a busy time for Hartsfield-Jackson. Five and a half million people are expected to pass through the terminals between Thursday and Jan. 2.
The next three days are expected to be among the busiest. Normally, air traffic as a whole increases by about 5 percent during the holidays. On the flipside, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day traffic drops by about a third of a normal count.