Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Senator wants to study possible Georgia takeover of Atlanta airport

After facing resistance to his proposal to shift more control of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to the state, a Georgia senator now wants a panel to study the possibility of making that change.

State Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, said questions arose after he mentioned plans to file the bill, which would have created a statewide board to manage the Atlanta airport, and those questions need to be answered.

“I decided one session would be too fast to try and push it through,” he said. “I felt like doing an extensive study committee would be a better way of going about it.”

Jones’ legislation, Senate Bill 379, was met with resistance from the governor’s office and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who launched a lobbying effort to kill it.

The airport has been under city control since it was redeveloped from an abandoned racetrack into an airfield back in the 1920s. Atlanta officials have guarded it for decades as it grew into a major economic development engine, with an estimated annual statewide impact of $70 billion.

Jones said he’s spoken with Atlanta officials and hopes to find common ground in the coming months.

The Senate Transportation Committee approved the creation of the study group in Senate Resolution 882, which would consist of a bipartisan group of 13 senators appointed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. Senate study committees only have to be approved by that chamber before going into effect.

“We’ll look at all the parameters and what makes the most sense,” Jones said, “and then we’ll look at it next session and see what we want to do.”

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