Paulding airport developer gets new client

Propeller Investments, the company that hopes to bring airline flights to a second airport in metro Atlanta, has gained approval for a similar effort on the other side of the country.

Snohomish County, Wash., this week approved a deal in which Propeller will commercialize a local airport and work to attract airline flights.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Propeller CEO Brett Smith said.

He added that the project at Paine Field, in the city of Everett, won’t alter his firm’s work at Paulding County’s Silver Comet Field. Propeller has a deal with Paulding to run the airport and try to draw limited airline service. So far it has been stymied by legal hurdles and opposition from various quarters, including local residents, Delta Air Lines and the city of Atlanta.

An earlier effort by Propeller to commercialize Gwinnett County’s Briscoe Field was rejected by leaders there after lengthy consideration.

Smith said “airline interest remains” in Paulding, “and there are a lot of people who still want to see this.”

The settings for Propeller’s projects in Washington and Georgia are very different.

Silver Comet, about a 38 miles from downtown Atlanta, was built in 2008. It is lightly used for general aviation and needs federal approval and modifications to handle airline service.

Paine Field, about 25 miles north of downtown Seattle, was built in 1936. The airport serves Boeing’s adjacent airliner plant and is already federally certified for commercial service. It handles 300 flights a day.

Propeller’s lease with the Paulding airport was quietly approved in a 2012 vote by airport authority members with no public comment and few people in attendance at the meeting. The commercialization plan was announced nearly a year later.

At Paine Field, where the prospect of commercial service has been a decades-long issue, about 40 people signed up to comment at the county council meeting before the council voted on the deal.

And while Propeller’s plan for commercial service in Paulding has been delayed by an environmental assessment required in a legal settlement, such an assessment at Paine Field was completed in 2012.

Like metro Atlanta, Seattle has only one airport for regular airline service. No airlines have committed to serving Paine but part of Propeller’s job will be to change that.