Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called the move“nothing short, in my opinion, of an attempted theft from the people of Atlanta and the city of Atlanta.”
The bill includes an amendment introduced by Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Alpharetta, that would provide an out from a state airport takeover— if the city and the Georgia General Assembly agree on a “joint governance plan” by July 2020, in which case the airport takeover act would be repealed. Gooch said the wording is “very broad” and “could mean they keep the operation just as it is, with the exception of procurement,” if that’s what the state and city agreed to.
But Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, who voted against the legislation, called the amendment similar to “negotiating with a gun to your head.” Also voting against the measure was Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain, and David Lucas, D-Macon.
It was not immediately clear if the bill would advance to a vote by the full Senate.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms blasted a bill that would allow the state to take control of Hartsfield Jackson. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Other hurdles also remain. During discussion of the bill, Ginn echoed Bottoms’ concerns and asked how much Hartsfield-Jackson is worth and how the city of Atlanta would be compensated.
Jones said there is no current provision for payment to the city. “You have to have enabling legislation, you have to have [Federal Aviation Administration] approval,” Jones said. “You do have to make a case” to the FAA, he said.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian has said he opposes a state takeover. Atlanta is Delta’s hub and the airline is one of the biggest employers in the state.
In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bottoms said potential barriers to the deal include FAA guidelines and bonds that would “essentially be undone” in an ownership change.
“It creates a level of uncertainty that’s not helpful for day-to-day operations at the airport,” the mayor said. “We will do everything in our power to make sure this does not happen.”