A years-long effort to commercialize a second airport in metro Atlanta came to a halt this week as the Federal Aviation Administration closed its file on the Paulding County airport’s application.
The move comes more than four years after Paulding County and its airport authority announced an ambitious plan to attract airline service. But it was followed by legal challenges by residents, opposition by Delta Air Lines and the city of Atlanta, and political upheaval within the county.
The FAA said it was terminating its consideration of a draft environmental assessment for projects to support commercial airline service and closing its file on the Paulding County airport's application for an air carrier operating certificate.
“The agency took these actions at this time because the airport did not respond to a request for revisions” to the draft environmental assessment, the FAA said in a statement.
Paulding airport director Terry Tibbitts said he just received the letter Thursday and is “still evaluating it.”
Peter Steenland, an attorney for residents who opposed the commercialization, called the FAA’s move “a big victory for open government, transparency, and the environment.”
“We are pleased that the Paulding Airport will remain a top-flite general aviation facility,” he said in a written statement.
However, it’s yet to be seen what happens next. A long-term lease between the Paulding County Airport Authority and Silver Comet Terminal Partners, the company seeking to attract airline service to Paulding, specifies that the airport authority must “use its best efforts” to get commercial certification.
The FAA says in the letter to Tibbitts that if the Paulding airport wishes to pursue the commercial certification, it should submit a new application with all required documentation, to be followed by an environmental review “based on the circumstances in effect at the time.”