Georgia Senate study committee to consider ‘secondary airport hub’

Sen. Burt Jones confers with colleagues on the floor. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Sen. Burt Jones confers with colleagues on the floor. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

The new chair of a Georgia Senate study committee examining the idea of taking over Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport says the committee will also weigh the idea of a "secondary airport hub."

Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport, is owned and run by the city of Atlanta.

The Georgia Senate committee, created by resolution during this year’s legislative session, will examine the idea of creating a state-run authority to run Hartsfield-Jackson.

It will also “consider the possibility of adding a secondary airport hub modeling other [states] with the same population density as Georgia,” according to study committee chairman State Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, in a written statement.

The goal of the study committee created this year is “to determine what the best process is moving forward in regards to operations of one of our state’s biggest employers and economic drivers - Hartsfield-Jackson Airport,” according to Jones. “We will hold several meetings with all interested parties to seek out information on whether a state-run authority is better suited to ensure that we are maximizing full potential of the airport when it comes to our state’s economy.”

Among those who have weighed in with doubts about the idea or opposition are several officials linked to Hartsfield-Jackson, including Atlanta City Council transportation committee chair Andre Dickens, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian and Hartsfield-Jackson interim general manager Balram Bheodari.

The state-run authority idea “doesn’t make sense,” Bheodari said Friday.

Delta, which has its largest hub at Hartsfield-Jackson, has long opposed the idea of a second Atlanta airport and worked to block an effort to commercialize Paulding County's airport northwest of Atlanta.

"Atlanta is the largest, most successful airport in the world, and anything that would harm that in terms of trying to move it for political gain between the city and state, we're opposed," Bastian said this week. "We have the crown jewel in air travel right here in Hartsfield-Jackson and I think the city should take great pride in what they've built and we'd be opposed to any change in the governance structure."

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