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Atlanta's second commercial airport not a done deal | News

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Atlanta's second commercial airport not a done deal
News

ATLANTA - Even though Paulding County airport officials have portrayed commercial flights as practically certain in early 2014, they're not a done deal.

"These contracts are already finished; these contracts have all been bid out and they've all been awarded," airport director Blake Swafford said after a heated airport authority meeting Tuesday.

He also pointed out that work has already begun to lengthen the runway at newly renamed Silver Comet Field.

While that may be true, many angry residents still oppose the flights, claiming the decision was made in private without any public hearings.

Some are discussing the possibility of legal action based on Georgia's Open Meetings law.

Also, even the airport director admits the Federal Aviation Administration must still approve the expansion.

"We have a small mountain of paperwork that we have to submit to them and we've done that and they're doing all their reviews at this time," Swafford said.

The FAA's decision on the expansion is expected in the next couple of months.

On Wednesday the federal agency sent 11 Alive an email saying, in part, that it supported construction of a new Paulding County airport to meet increased general aviation demand and to help relieve general aviation traffic from Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson Airport.

The FAA said the decision to expand that to include commercial traffic is "ultimately the responsibility of the local community."

But it said commercial flights would have to meet "all necessary safety and environmental requirements" as well.

As one of the only major U.S. cities without a second airport, Atlanta leaders have discussed the possibility of another one for decades.

But Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, whose city runs Hartsfield Jackson, has come out against the Paulding County expansion.

So has Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson.

On Wednesday Delta sent 11 Alive an email saying it believes Atlanta, "is best served with a single, strong airport that can serve the needs of area travelers and act as a major economic engine for the region."

11 Alive caught up with Governor Nathan Deal on Wednesday to ask his thoughts on the controversy.

"I certainly understand the need for perhaps another alternative location," he said.

"As you know, over a series of years we've always talked about a potential second airport," Deal added.

When asked about Mayor Reed and Delta's opposition to the Paulding expansion, Deal said he can understand their concern, but added, "that's an issue that relates to them and it's nothing that I have any reason to take a position on."

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