Does Airport Not in Atlanta Surrounded by Land Owned by Atlanta Affect Exclusive Contract With Delta Air Lines?

I n one of his final acts as chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines, Richard Anderson signed an agreement with Kasim Reed — who is the current mayor of Atlanta — in which Delta Air Lines is committed to keeping its world headquarters based in Atlanta; and in return, the city of Atlanta agreed not to build a second commercial airport during the next 20 years.

Many articles from traditional media — as well as from “bloggers” — inferred that Atlanta will only have one airport for the next 20 years…

…but what about the proposed expansion of Silver Comet Field at Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport — which Delta Air Lines and the city of Atlanta have had a history of opposing — as it is located almost 40 miles northwest of Atlanta and not located within the city of Atlanta?

Well, the airport is located within the city of Atlanta — in a way.

Does Airport Not in Atlanta Surrounded by Land Owned by Atlanta Affect Exclusive Contract With Delta Air Lines?

According to this article written by Kelly Yamanouchi of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Paulding’s airport is surrounded by land owned by the city of Atlanta, which has already said it opposes the Paulding airport’s plans.”

Sometime in the early 1970s, the city of Atlanta purchased 10,165 acres in Paulding for $9,402,625.00 — which is $925.00 per acre — along with a tract of land of similar size in Dawson Forest, which is located approximately 53 miles north and slightly east of Atlanta.

“Ironically, the city owns the land because Atlanta officials once saw Paulding as potentially the perfect place for a second, ‘reliever’ airport for Hartsfield-Jackson International — an idea they now reject”…

…especially after that recent signed agreement with Delta Air Lines, which occurred while Miguel Southwell was still the general manager of the airport. Southwell was fired four days ago.

Secret Dealings?

The Atlanta City Council approved the sale of 163 of the acres it owned to the airport for $815,000.00 back in 2007 in order for a runway to be completed; as well as a buffer zone for what were considered improvements for a general aviation airfield — and the deal was intended to help economic development in Paulding County…

…but that cooperative tone changed with the decision by officials in Paulding County to commercialize the airport with the help of Propeller Investments — and with little knowledge to the public from the commissioners of Paulding County, which is why many of its residents oppose the expansion of the airport, according to this Internet web site on Facebook.

Only hours ago, the following message was posted pertaining to the commercialization of the airport in Paulding County:

Judge Brantley is expected to give us his ruling on the Open Meetings Act lawsuit that’s against the AA for violating the Sunshine Law in an attempt to keep commercialization a secret by tomorrow. Also, there were some motions made on the Ultra Vires case by both sides, which Judge Brantley will also give us rulings on by tomorrow. His decisions will determine how the Ultra Vires case proceeds. We’ll keep you posted!

The mistrust of the commissioners by its residents as a result has created a volatile political environment in the county — which could very well be more of a factor of preventing Silver Comet Field at Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport from competing with the busiest passenger airport in the world than the approximately 60 percent of the land owned by the city of Atlanta which surrounds the small airport.

“Both Delta and the city view a second airport as a foot in the door that could lead eventually to a rival to Hartsfield-Jackson, the city’s crown jewel for economic development and the citadel hub of Delta’s route system”, according to the aforementioned article. “Paulding officials say the concern is misplaced because they never envision a very big airline operation, just one that would offer limited flights to leisure destinations.”

Allegiant Travel Company — which owns Allegiant Air, at one time the most profitable airline in the United States — had filed a letter of intent a couple of years ago to provide commercial air service, according to Blake Swafford, who is the director of Silver Comet Field of Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport. Airport planners hope to eventually start with only a couple of flights per week, which would not affect operations at the main airport operated by the city of Atlanta.

Summary

There are too many factors which currently prevent the growth of Silver Comet Field of Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport into becoming a viable commercial alternative for the international airport which serves the greater metropolitan area of Atlanta: opposition from Delta Air Lines, the city of Atlanta, and many residents of Paulding County; the hilly terrain near the airport; the remote location of the airport at a significant distance from Atlanta; the lack of transportation services; United States highway 278 running parallel to the airport with no Interstate highway nearby; and the land surrounding much of the airport which is owned by the city of Atlanta — among other reasons.

Imagery ©2013 TerraMetrics. Map data ©2013 courtesy of Google Maps. Additional graphics provided by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “Does Airport Not in Atlanta Surrounded by Land Owned by Atlanta Affect Exclusive Contract With Delta Air Lines?”

  1. Adam S. says:

    Hey Brian, it’s Adam S., contributor over on Point Me to the Plane. A few of your posts lately have been about Atlanta do you live here too? I live up in Cumming. Have you ever explored the Dawson Wildlife Management Area? It’s only a few miles from my house. Pretty interesting place, in the 50’s it was used by Lockheed Martin as a nuclear aircraft test site and in 1972 was sold to the City of Atlanta (still owned by them) to build a second airport. I know you can see my e-mail on the back end, e-mail me if you want to go check it out sometime, I also know a few guys who are MS/trip/ fellow avgeeks who would probably want to join us and maybe go grab lunch/dinner or something afterwards.

    Adam S.

  2. Vicente says:

    Every time I fly Delta, I wanted to smack Richard Anderson when he appeared on the safety video. What a jerk. I hope the replacement is an improvement.

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