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Why Delta Air Lines Opposes Paulding Airport

This is a letter written last month to Paulding County Board of Commissioners Chairman, David Austin, by Holden Shannon, Senior Vice President – Corporate Strategy & Real Estate Delta Air Lines.

Dear Mr. Austin: 

I am writing in response to your Nov. 15 letter to Delta CEO Richard Anderson regarding the effort to transform Paulding County airport from a general aviation facility to a full commercial service airport.

Delta’s interest in this matter is to safeguard metro Atlanta’s most powerful economic engine – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Over the past seven decades, Hartsfield-Jackson has evolved into the world’s busiest airport, with more flights and destinations than any other major U.S. airport, bringing an estimated $58 billion annually in total economic benefits to the region and supporting tens of thousands of jobs statewide.

In recent years major companies including Newell Rubbermaid, First Data and NCR have relocated to Georgia thanks in part to Atlanta’s extensive international and domestic service.

This pattern of service has developed because of the number of flights that serve Hartsfield: Every arriving flight includes travelers who connect to other flights, providing support for an expansive network of nonstop destinations.

Hartsfield-Jackson achieved this position in large part because of its status as the region’s sole commercial airport. Airports in cities such as Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, which have much larger populations than Atlanta, are smaller and less significant because of secondary airports in close proximity. These secondary airports siphon traffic flow from hubs at the primary airports and ultimately reduce the number of flights and destinations that can be successfully operated. They also reduce airport revenues, in the form of landing fees, concession revenues and parking charges, which are needed to support expansion and development of the primary airport.

That’s why Delta has long opposed a secondary airport in Atlanta, including in Paulding County. And it is why we have publicly stated that we will work with Hartsfield-Jackson and new entrant airlines to ensure that any new entrants to the Atlanta market have access to gates and facilities at Hartsfield-Jackson.

While our position is driven primarily by the desire to protect and continue to develop the region’s economy, we also are mindful of the potential negative impact a Paulding County passenger airport could have on county taxpayers, which include nearly 800 Delta employees. The agreement, which was signed in secret and only recently made public, gives a private firm, Propeller Investments, all of the business advantages of a passenger airport, while Paulding County taxpayers are assuming all of the risks and will be responsible for the cost of development if the airport fails commercially.

The lack of transparency in the process is clearly a concern for area residents, many of whom have voiced strong opposition to the expansion in recent weeks. For example, it appears that the county attempted to find a shortcut around an environmental review of the airport expansion project by failing to inform the FAA of its plans to establish Atlanta’s secondary passenger airport in Paulding County. That’s just one of many questions that have recently been raised about the project.

I hope this clarifies Delta’s position. Please contact me if you’d like to discuss the issue further.

Sincerely, Holden Shannon Senior Vice President – Corporate Strategy & Real Estate Delta Air Lines

Related Dallas-Hiram Patch stories:

Paulding County Chamber: Myths Vs. Facts on Silver Comet Field

Commissioner: Airport Authority Pushed Changes Through Backdoor

Upset Residents Want to be Heard about Airport's Expansion Plans

County and Propeller Investments Announce Silver Comet Field

janh999 December 05, 2013 at 07:54 AM
Delta is greedy! Thats why they oppose it. They are the main airline at Hartsfield & would like nothing more than being a monopoly. They have worked very hard with the city to get rid of small businesses & restaurants from the airport & get new contracts with higher paying tenants. People like me who only take small 2hrs flights to Buffalo would rather not drive an hr to the airport and wait 2hrs at the airport with a very active 6yr old just to take that 2hr flight. It would be great to have a smaller closer airport that could possibly fit my needs.
Robbin December 05, 2013 at 09:08 AM
Just how far away do you live from the Silver Comet Airport Jan H.? Maybe for you about convinence, but the rest of us have to deal with our homes and properties deappreciating, lots of air pollution, noise and our side of town being turned into a waste dump. I understand Delta's point on this. They have been there a long time. It's not that far of a drive to Hartsfield Airport and it keeps all the mid-town maddness out of Dallas, as well as keeps Dallas a beautiful, country county.
Dave H. Hinchberger December 05, 2013 at 12:31 PM
I for one am glad we are not going to have this traffic. Robbin is correct in this assessment. It is only an hour to get to the airport, actually for me it's only 45 minutes from Hiram. That's a cheap price to pay in time to not have to deal with the onslaught of all the congestion, and taxpayer costs as Delta noted, with a move like this. And then there's the issue of secret meetings, keeping the public out of it, and spending our taxpayer money. Will this be addressed on a political level? Probably not.
Patty Baker December 05, 2013 at 06:20 PM
I agree with Robbin and Dave. At least the Delta rep was honest and blunt about his intentions in his letter that is more than I can say for the politicians in Paulding County. This keeping everything a secret is dishonest and sneaky. It looks like the greedy businessmen want to line their pockets at the taxpayers and homeowner's expense!
mad0622 December 05, 2013 at 08:08 PM
Good to see that the community is being represented - NOT..!! No commercial flights in Paulding, people! Come on, think!!
Robbin December 06, 2013 at 10:25 AM
"Thank you Dave, Patty and mad0622! I appreciate your support on my thoughts and feelings of the airport."
mfwallwin January 18, 2014 at 02:16 AM
Missy Monopoly and, more monopoly. Who are the less greedy? All involved with this issue are politicians of greed. If Paulding County is successful in their endeavor for an airport what will be the effect of those from Fulton County driving all the way to Paulding when they have Hartsfield/Jackson at their fingertips. I think none. To each his own. Share the convenience and income for each county. Do you honestly think the citizen's wishes are going to be acknowledged. Not unless the whole of Paulding County protest. You are in for a battle in the trenches with some greedy politicians. Good luck in your quest for the absence of runways across your county.

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