Paulding Airport Plan Perturbs Delta CEO, Atlanta Mayor

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Hours after plans were announced to bring commercial airline service to Paulding County, Delta Air Lines' CEO and Atlanta's mayor vowed a fight. 

New York-based Propeller Investments Friday said it had inked a deal with Paulding officials to rename the airfield Silver Comet Field at Paulding NW Atlanta airport.  An audio version of this story

Propeller's CEO, Brett Smith, also says he's in talks with “several” carriers to bring scheduled air service to Paulding, including ones now serving Hartsfield-Jackson. “We expect to make an announcement before the end of the year,” Smith says. 

Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson apparently didn't care for the news, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he'd work with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to “oppose any investment in that facility.”  

A statement Emailed by Reed spokesman Carlos Campos confirms the mayor's position.

For 15 consecutive years, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has maintained its position as the world’s busiest passenger airport generating more than $30 billion annually in economic benefits to the city, metropolitan region and state.  Mayor Kasim Reed and the City of Atlanta are committed to ensuring that Hartsfield-Jackson retains its unique role as the world’s leading passenger airport,  providing support for more than 300,000 jobs in the region.  We intend to focus our energy on expanding the Hartsfield-Jackson campus and will not support Propeller Investment’s efforts to add commercial air service.

The strong outcry baffles Propeller's Brett Smith.  

“If they weren’t concerned and didn’t think this was viable, why would they say anything?” Smith questions, adding that he never asked for Reed's blessing and that Atlanta's mayor has no say in what another municipality does.  

As far as commercial carriers, airline consultant Michael Boyd of The Boyd Group, International says the likely suspect is Nevada-based Allegiant Air.

“They’re not an airline,” Boyd says. “They’ll correct you.  They’re a travel company.”

Allegiant caters to leisure travelers and targets small cities with limited—or no—competition.

“They come in and they go,” Boyd says of Allegiant.  ”And if it doesn’t work, they’ll leave.  No hard feelings.”