A Delta Air Lines Inc. plane takes off from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport April 15, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia. Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Air Lines Corp.'s board of directors approved the merger between the two air lines. (Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images)
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta City Council has voted to approve contracts for new concessions at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The measure passed by a vote of 12 to 3.
RELATED VIDEO | Atlanta council passes airport concessions contracts
The city's aviation department is estimated to receive more than $51 million per year from gross food and beverage sales from the contracts, which coincide with the May opening of a new international terminal. Critics wanted more vetting of the process and bidders.
The contracts cover operating rights for 150 restaurant, bar and retail locations at Atlanta's airport. The Varsity, Shane's Rib Shack, Willy's Mexicana Grill and Sweet Georgia's Juke Joint are among the new brands that winners of the contracts will introduce to the airport.
The meeting, which started just at 1 p.m. Tuesday, went well into the evening - not ending until after 9 p.m.
Critics wanted the vote delayed by a week or two because they said some of those concessionaires funneled money to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's campaign.
RELATED | Airport concessions contracts spark controversy
But, Mayor Reed said he had nothing to do with selecting the winning contracts, that the move was only good for Atlanta's airport. He also said he gave some of the campaign contributions back.
"Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the economic engine not only for the City of Atlanta and the metropolitan region, but also for the state of Georgia," said Mayor Kasim Reed in a news release Tuesday night. "These new concessions contracts will generate $51 million in annual revenues, an increase of more than $23 million, and ensure that the 90 million travelers who pass through Hartsfield-Jackson each year have world-class food, beverage and retail options. With the opening of the new Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International terminal this spring, Atlanta's position as the global capital of the Southeast will be secure for decades to come."
Mayor Reed was livid Tuesday night that anyone accused the process of being less than honest and lashed out at Common Cause Georgia, the group behind the accusations.
"This has been the most transparent and open procurement process I have been a part of in my more than 30 years in the aviation industry," said Louis Miller, Aviation General Manager in a news release issued by the Mayor's office. "We are pleased that our new concessions program has been approved, and we can move forward in providing our customers with an exciting array of new dining and retail options in the coming months. The food and beverage program will create a sense of place for our customers and will offer a variety of new and local restaurateurs and companies to the airport."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)