ATLANTA – As metro Atlanta prepares for the summer travel season, some are asking why the area relies on one commercial airport.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport often holds the title of World’s Busiest. The distinction sometimes comes with long lines at security checkpoints and flight delays.
The subject of a second commercial airport has been studied and debated for decades. Other major cities like Chicago, Washington DC, and Houston have more than one place for travelers to catch a commercial flight.
Why not Atlanta?
The discussions go back to the early 1990’s. Neighbors in Gwinnett, Cherokee, and Jackson Counties protested studies that focused on those areas as possible locations for a second airport.
In 2007, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a report listing Atlanta among the cities that might need another commercial airport.
“We may need to add as many as four more in the next 20 or 30 years,” wrote FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. “Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, and San Diego are among the likely candidates.”
The report went on to say, “While Atlanta should be lauded for the increased capacity added by its new runway, the metropolitan area is expected to need additional capacity improvements to meet forecast demand for 2025.”
“The new runway that opened in 2006 and area navigation flight procedures have improved the airport’s capacity,” the report reads. “However, the airport remains prone to delays due to demand growth. Delays at ATL are projected to continue through 2020.”
In 2011, the city of Atlanta joined others to study eight possible locations for a second airport, and concluded none of them would bring the right benefit for the cost. Those eight sights include Paulding County, where attempts to bring commercial flights to Silver Comet Field have been mired in lawsuits.
“Based on the current cost-benefit analysis, none of the eight sites studied were found to be feasible at this time; however, given the growing population of the region, an ever changing economic climate, and the dynamic nature of aviation, the feasibility of a second airport in the Atlanta area will need to be revisited periodically in the future.”
A spokesperson for Hartsfield-Jackson says the airport is relying on a 20-year master plan to handle future demand.
“Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has proven to be the world’s most efficient airport for more than a decade,” says Andy Gobeil. “Simply put, there is no need for an additional facility.”
The Master Plan, published in March of 2015, calls for additional gates, a sixth runway, new concourses, and additional parking lots to handle future growth.
The city of Atlanta’s contract with Delta states that the city “does not currently plan to and will not operate or own” a second commercial airport in the area.