City leaders vow to fight state takeover of Atlanta airport

City of Atlanta officials said that they will fight a state takeover of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The state Senate Transportation Committee  late Tuesday approved a bill that would create the Georgia Major Airport Authority to control the world's busiest airport

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.”

She has made preventing the takeover "essentially her top legislative priority this year," and is holding meetings with lawmakers and others on the matter Wednesday and Thursday, Rashad Taylor, a senior adviser to the mayor, said Wednesday.

Andre Dickens, chairman of the Atlanta city council transportation committee, said he  “wanted to know what the game plan was.”

“I hope we have a plan. I asked for it and I didn’t get it,” Dickens said, as he and some other council members scrambled on Wednesday to coordinate with the mayor’s administration on the matter. “We still have a fight to have.”

"Moving forward we'll have greater communication," Taylor said. "Everyone's voice is needed."

The bill 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General Assembly agree on a "joint governance plan" by July 2020, in which case the airport takeover act would be repealed.

State Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, said he sponsored the bill in response to a federal corruption investigation into Atlanta City Hall and lawsuits over the years alleging steering of airport contracts.

“Unfortunately, there have been some people that have taken advantage of that elected post... where they’ve given out political favors and lucrative contracts to family members and friends,” Jones said. “And in some cases you gotta question whether or not they’re qualified to do the jobs they’ve been asked to do.”

“You have to have a structure that stands on its own, and it could be a city/state structure,” Jones said. “They’ve got to reach out and bring forth a concept or an idea, instead of just showing up at committee meetings to fight it.”