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Does Metro Atlanta Need a Second Airport?

For Metro Atlanta, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is it. Would you like to see it get a back-up airport, and if so, where should it be located?

Most major international airports in the US have a second, or even third, airport to back them up. In New York, JF Kennedy International Airport is backed up by LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International, in Chicago, there is O’Hare and Midway and in the Atlanta area there is Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and… Well, there is Hartfield-Jackson International Airport.

Despite being the busiest airport in not just the US but also the world, metro Atlanta has no back-up airport. According to Wikipedia, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport not only has the largest number of passengers passing through it, but it also moves the most aircrafts in the world annually.

There has been a lot of talk recently, sometimes pretty heated talk, about possibly converting to becoming that back-up airport for Hartsfield-Jackson. Those who live in Those who are likely to .

So the question today is twofold. Firstly, does metro Atlanta need a second airport? And secondly, if so, where would you like to see it located?

S. Hawk May 26, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Why is Briscoe the only consideration? What about these other municipal airports? 1. Covington Municipal Airport 2. DeKalb-Peachtree Airport 3. Fulton County Airport / Charlie Brown Field 4. Cobb County Airport / McCollum Field Kennesaw 5. Cartersville Airport Cartersville 6. Newnan-Coweta County Airport Newnan 7. Cherokee County Airport Canton / Ball Ground 8. Paulding County Regional Airport Dallas 9. Clayton County Airport / Tara Field Hampton (former Henry County Airport / Morris Field) 10. Falcon Field Peachtree City
Ken Clark May 27, 2012 at 05:51 PM
FWIW, the AMACS 2 study did consider your list - as follows... 1. Covington Municipal Airport - removed due to site issues 2. DeKalb-Peachtree Airport - removed due to airspace issues 3. Fulton County Airport / Charlie Brown Field - removed due to airspace issues 4. Cobb County Airport / McCollum Field Kennesaw - to be reviewed 5. Cartersville Airport Cartersville - to be reviewed 6. Newnan-Coweta County Airport Newnan - removed due to proximity to Atl & market strength 7. Cherokee County Airport Canton / Ball Ground - to be reviewed 8. Paulding County Regional Airport Dallas - to be reviewed 9. Clayton County Airport / Tara Field Hampton - removed due to proximity to Atl & market strength (former Henry County Airport / Morris Field) 10. Falcon Field Peachtree City - removed due to site issues Here's the link... http://www.atlanta-airport.com/docs/Airport/AMACSExecutiveSummary.pdf The airports that are designated as "to be reviewed" get some consideration in the AMACS report. Hope this helps.
M.K. OSBORNE May 27, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Ken , why did Athens quit Commercial flights ?
M.K. OSBORNE May 27, 2012 at 06:06 PM
If we do need one it should locate in middle/central georgia with rail linking to metro Area. Plenty of land out there and they need the economic boost . kinda like the Jacksonville airport.
Ken Clark May 27, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Couldn't really say why, but according to Wikipedia Air Midwest/US Airways Express pulled out in 2008 leaving them with - not much. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athens-Ben_Epps_Airport flightaware.com shows no airline flights at AHN. Based on a quick check with FAA ATADS, Athens (AHN) had 35,696 operations in CY 2011. By contrast, LZU had 80,902 operations in CY 2011. Maybe someone else knows the answer to "why"?
Floyd Akridge May 28, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Tommy, This isn't the usual NIMBY situation. Regardless of which side people are on...one thing that can be agreed upon once the airport is expanded or not expanded..things go from there...not a way to really put the crap back in the horse so t speak. Because of that I don't mind the strong feelings of those against expansion. I wouldn't expect anything less.
Floyd Akridge May 28, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Thanks Ken...I had been meaning to ask if other airports had be considered. I had been looking at some of them on my own. I'm curious to read about McCollum, Cartersville and Cherokee. Thanks for the link!
Floyd Akridge May 28, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Kevin...I've thought about that too...especially with the rail link. My first and only real question though is the economics of it...if the airport could sustain itself...it would be that much farther from the north metro area...having to go basically right by Hartsfield...It would be an interesting study for sure.
M.K. OSBORNE May 28, 2012 at 12:47 AM
wouldnt work without the rail , Im not sure of the numbers that come from there to Atlanta for the airport.
S. Hawk May 28, 2012 at 11:00 PM
@Ken Clark -- thank you for the update and the link concerning the other municipal airports.
needan January 08, 2013 at 05:31 PM
ATL airport top officials do not want the 2nd airport in the North or North-East or East of Atlanta. Why? It is pure GREED (money is the root of all evils) to have monopoly and wants to dominate on one airport for the whole Atlanta area ignoring the convenience, unwanted stress, traffic, air pollution, accidents, revenue to other county, etc., and even causing deaths to these travelers stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Do metro atlantans from the North, North East and East have to suffer and risk their lives to commute all the way in this violent traffic in a poorly designed road network system of hwys and byways to catch the plane every time? City of Atlanta will dance accordingly silently with 1st airport which will not support the 2nd commercial airport in Gwinnett. Gwinnett Briscoe Airport was an ideal location. Besides politicians & city of Atlanta lobbing against it, DELTA is totally against the expansion of 2nd airport. Practically thinking - Is it the convenience of the people to catch the flight easily with less commute in this long traffic or should be the Atlantans punished every time as victims for this GREED for money attitude from the ATL airport officials and its supporters ? City of Atlanta and surrounding parties will be just silent and support the existing airport only arguing or suggesting why not put 10 runways and expand the ATL airport?
needan January 08, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Don't you feel ashamed of boasting that ATL airport is the busiest in the world? It is not true. That title has to go to CHICAGO airport because they have 2 airports and then look at the traffic count in ORD.
needan January 08, 2013 at 05:35 PM
On the other hand a good % of blame goes to Gwinnettans too who do not want the airport blaming on quality of life and noise pollution. This will certainly help and stands in the favor of the FIRST airport top officials as well as the city of Atlanta which makes their job easier against the 2nd airport. Gwinnettans do not know how much decibel sound has increased at present due to the day by day increasing traffic noise from engines & road (especially from highways), video games, TV’s turned on, phone talk, various entertainment sounds, etc. is hitting their eardrums every second of their life. But when the jet is airborne that is a noise pollution. Actually, the new jets are way less noise than the older jets. Just go to an airport watch and listen to the Airbus A380 (which can accommodate 555 passengers) takes offs and landings. It will be hard to believe your ears and eyes. It is less noise compared to the existing pipers and the Cessna’s operating from the Briscoe airport. In Briscoe airport, it is not the A380s or B777's jets but ONLY approved for the small -medium jets B737 or A320s.
needan January 08, 2013 at 05:36 PM
It is people's ego, ignorance and rebellious attitude towards modernization backed by out dated thinking of some officials in Gwinnett county that knocked out a fantastic opportunity to have a 2nd airport very soon in all aspects who had sent a letter to Federal Aviation that Gwinnett county people does not want an airport no matter even it takes 2 hours or more sitting in the rush hour polluting the air which the Gwinnettans have no problem or stupid enough to accept and breath that highly polluted air and risk their own lives forever? Why not as an alternative, go further 5-10 miles down on Hwy 316 East where there are acres of nice flat farming lands to construct a 2nd airport? This will avoid people who are whining about a jet in their backyards. That is a very good possibility but who will come forward to make it happen?
Jim Regan January 08, 2013 at 05:49 PM
I appreciate that you hate the drive to Hartsfield, but if your personal convenience is such an overwhelming justification to build a 2nd airport at Briscoe, why don't you just move to College Park or Hapesville?
Jim Regan January 08, 2013 at 05:57 PM
I asked Brett Smith, Propeller CEO, that very same question. Why not do a green field airport on an appropriately sized parcel of land that would not negatively impact the current residents? Brett's response. He wouldn't make any money, a green field airport would take to long to receive FAA and EPA approval. Brett's plan relied on getting Briscoe basically for free, as confirmed in Propeller's June 2012 proposal.
needan January 08, 2013 at 07:10 PM
Jim, I agree with you totally in this point of view. Nothing wrong to have a green field airport if gwinnett airport does not work. What I understand is Propeller wants a quick rich approach eyeing only on "Profit Dollars". That is not a healthy approach. My strong gut feel is the green field airport if built in just 5-10 miles from Briscoe it will be very practical to meet the urgent needs of travelers from North & Eastern Suburbs + that airport will make huge profit which will provide ample employment, small business growth, lot of revenue for the county and of course taxes for IRS and GA State. After all, it will gain lot of attention from gwinnettans who had opposed this airport in the first place, later on saying it worked out well and they will support this new airport and think positively !
Jim Regan January 08, 2013 at 07:42 PM
An airport 5-10 miles east of Briscoe would be the wrong direction, plus there is already an airport in the area you describe Northeast Georgia Regional Airport - aka Winder-Barrow. The right location would be 15 miles west of Briscoe which would be the Cumming/Dawsonville area. Why you ask? Think about the area required to make an airport successful, Gwinnett alone could not support a regional airport. 75% of Hartsfield passengers don't leave the terminal. The remaining 25% of Hartsfield's customers come from Douglasville, Kennesaw, Macon, Marietta, Atlanta, Cumming, Alpharetta, Athens, Greenville-SC and other towns. If you live in one of these areas you're going to fly from the most convenient airport, which offers the most flights to your destination, and at the lowest price. How many people do you think are going to drive from Macon or Kennesaw to Briscoe for a flight? I would suggest the most probable answer would be zero. But if Atlanta's 2nd airport were centrally located would it get much more use? And isn't it interesting that the City of Atlanta bought 15,000 acres in Dawsonville in the 1970s for a second airport?
Jim Regan January 08, 2013 at 07:48 PM
The second consideration is who is going to spend the next 3-4 years getting approval from the FAA & EPA and spend the $400-500 M to build the airport? Personally, I do not want Gwinnett government to take that kind of risk with my tax money. There are too many examples of goverments taking that risk only to fail. Look no further than MidAmerica airport near St Louis for an example from the 1990s.
needan January 08, 2013 at 07:48 PM
REPLY- why don't you just move to College Park or Hapesville?" Appreciate your response Jim, If you suggested a choice, how about me give you some more choices? Also, some points to think! 1) Why don't you move to a place where jet sound can't be heard so you can live peacefully? 2) We were all born as babies and if no growth what it would be like? Growth is a natural thing we all have to accept. We grow size wise and older. 3) Does it make any logic that a major city like Atlanta should have only ONE airport and should be in the South side of the city? Also, not to have any other commercial airports in future on other side of the city (here it is North)? 4) Do all air travelers have to stay in Clayton & Henry counties? 5) As a city grows leaps and bounds so does the need for another airport arises? No logic or excuse for anyone to say that I bought my house 10 years or 20 years back thinking that another airport will not come or the existing private airport not be upgraded to commercial airport? 6) City's growth becomes more important when compared to people's personal likes, preference, demands and wants. Those who are against another airport are basically stopping or hindering the growth of that city. Think logically!
needan January 08, 2013 at 07:59 PM
I have no problem with Dawsonville to have the 2nd airport. But from Briscoe it is another 25 miles approx right? Distance wise, it is getting more far for people from Norcross, Alpharetta, Snellville, Grayson, Loganville, Dacula, Buford, Suwanee, Lawrenceville, Winder, Athens, Cumming and areas next to I-575 and I-75 corridor. Personally, I don't mind traveling to Dawsonville to catch the flight in shortest time with less hazzle. If the city of Atlanta bought that land it should have been developed 10 years back and it is not too late ! We need another airport !
needan January 08, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Get a Federal & State grant instead of having Gwinnett county spend all $550M tax payers money. If grants are approved for 70-80% then county has less to spend. Keep in mind there is a return coming in the form of taxes and other forms of income from day 1 to the county when the airport starts operating which will offset the money spent by county slowly and later on faster.
Jim Regan January 08, 2013 at 08:28 PM
Hey you were complaining about the drive to Hartsfield. I too hated the drive for the 10 years I traveled 50%, but I made the decision to live in Gwinnett and knew ATL was 50 miles. Most cities have 2 airports because they outgrew the one original developed in the 1920-1930s as aviation changed. ATL also outgrew the original airport, so Hartsfield was built, the old one closed. ATL followed a master plan to create an efficient well layed out operation. Today it is not over capacity, but will need expansion in 7-10 years. Multiple airports in a region does not create more competition, but may increase flight operation expense and hence ticket prices. Gwinnett missed the boat by failing to anticipate the possible expansion of Briscoe and properly zoning the land around the airport. The second missed opportunity occurred in the 1990's when they chose not move the airport away from L'ville when the expansion was done. Honestly Briscoe has more value to the community as a way to attract corporate aviation. CEOs want to be near the corporate jet and often locate HQ near the airport. Not to many corp jets based at Hartsfield these days. If we envision 316 being a research/medical/technology corridor a scheduled passenger aviation airport would not add value. Much better for Gwinnett to put its efforts into developing the area colleges and improving the graduation rate of public schools.
Jim Regan January 08, 2013 at 08:40 PM
You can just say we need another airport, it has to be a business decision. The question must be is another airport required due to safety or capacity reasons? If another airport were to be build would it be successful? I don't blame ATL for not taking the risk to fund a second airport, it is a huge expense. No it's not to late for the Dawsonville site to be developed, but look at the aviation industry. Is it stable? Not really I read today that American and US Air will probably merge this year. If correct we will have 3 legacy airlines - Delta/US Air/United. Plus consider the business model for airports - build them and hope airlines come and stay. Because airlines don't sign long-term contracts to protect your investment.
needan January 08, 2013 at 08:43 PM
Correction.. Distance from Briscoe Field Airport, Lawrenceville, GA - Dawsonville, GA It is a 1 Hr drive and distance is 43 miles+ approx. (not 25). Basically, it is almost the same distance to Hartsfield. No traffic that is the only benefit. Having the 2nd airport in Dawsonville would that be practical or not? Personally, with this updated info, I do not think it is worthwhile. Gwinnett Briscoe is better or build an airport close to Briscoe focusing towards the north-west area to accomodate people from Alpharetta, Cumming, Buford area. Officials of gwinnett county should have brought another piece of land (1000 acres) 20-30 years back visualizing the need for a commercial airport. Now there are lot of resident homes and it is quite tough to buy that much land.
Jim Regan January 08, 2013 at 08:44 PM
The State doesn't have money for aviation grants and do we really think we can rely on the FAA to provide near unlimited funding for a second airport? Income is not guaranteed from day one, again read about MidAmerica near St Louis and Branson MO privately built airport funded by CitiGroup. CitiGroup at one point was threatening foreclosure.
Jim Regan January 08, 2013 at 08:56 PM
Airlines do not care about our convenience, they don't mind that we drive for a hour or two. Brett Smith during a meeting with the Briscoe Citizens Committee conceded that Briscoe could not attract passenger from the west side of the Chattachoochie. That does not leave a high enough concentration of travellers to support a regional airport. You can't just fly 10 or 15 jets in a day, you have to have critical mass to support ground operations. The fact is that just not going to happen due to a number of factors - geograhic limitations, infrastructure cost, instablity of airline industry. Gwinnett county hired three aviation consultants, all three said Briscoe had slim to no chance for success. Would you ignore the advise of professional, independent aviation experts? Also the FAA AMACS II study eliminated Briscoe as an alternative to ATL. Would you ignore the FAA recommendation also? The FAA is independent and has no reason to spin the results.
needan January 08, 2013 at 09:10 PM
But ATLANTA city is way bigger city than St. Louis and Branson. Let us compare apples to apples. Atlanta is situated geographically positioned great and is also the big capital city of South-Eastern united states. Compare with Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi, Virginia. There is no other city like Atlanta in growth wise. Also, look at the job market, fortune companies, housing development and tourist attractions. This city is still growing in fast pace compared to any other cities in South East USA. If Briscoe is not ideal let us work out something that makes more sense and fits into the FAA AMAACS recommendation !
Jim Regan January 09, 2013 at 03:23 AM
We have to look at airport capacity and utilization. I'm sure on paper MidAmerican and Branson both looked like homeruns. Reality not so much. Remember 75% of passenger don't leave the Hartsfield terminal. What does that do the the necessity for another airport? If you build a regional airport your aren't going to pull pass thru passenger to a 2nd airport, your only going to attract local destination passengers. The experts said there aren't enough. We really don't want to lobby for or fund a 2nd airport if the likelihood for success isn't probable do we?
needan January 09, 2013 at 10:40 PM
That is the curse of Atlanta and the politicians/rulers who have not properly lined up the job market, very poor road net work, lack of proper mass transit, lack of not giving enough tax breaks for fortune companies to move to Georgia - eg. BMW, Mercedez Benz, Nissan, Honda to name a few of nice companies who wanted to open their biz. But the so called politicans and the ruling party did not study it properly and turned their backs against them. So what happened? They went to our neighboring states and were well received by the Governor, Mayors and the politicians who knew the value of every job and its growth consequences for a better economy. There are a lot of other fortune companies who are not welcomed graciously in Georgia due to this politicians and the old mind set thinking of residents in Atlanta. There is no other place like ATLANTA in this country that is best suitable for jobs, housing, quality of life, tourism, weather, etc,. But who killed it and still killing? The politicians and the negative minded people who do not want modernization of Atlanta. If this city was in the hands of right people, Atlanta would have been the BIG APPLE of this country and not New York. That is the growth potential for this Atlanta but very sad to see this city going through. If this city had the right set up we would need one regional airport each in 4 sides of the city. No need to worry about the 75% of in transit passengers. We can just leave the Hartsfield for them!

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