Delta Air Lines is opposing an Atlanta developer's plan to commercialize a second airport, to the northwest of the city. Paulding Airport, currently a general aviation airport, is being evaluated for future use by commercial airlines. Delta says it would threaten their hub at Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport.
The Paulding Airport developers (Propeller Investments) and Delta have each asked the Department of Transportation to investigate the others' motives. In a statement, Delta said, "The proposal is a waste of taxpayer dollars, violates the city's restrictions on the land, and would siphon off increasingly scarce federal funding that's more needed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport." Meanwhile, Propeller Investments accused Delta's opposition as being "sharp-elbowed anticompetitive conduct."
It makes sense that Delta would oppose another commercial airport option in the region. Their fortress hub at ATL has over 1,000 daily departures, giving them a near-monopoly operation there. Even after market disruptor Southwest Airlines started Atlanta service and bought out AirTran Airways (Delta's biggest ATL competitor), Southwest has struggled to gain market share, and has actually downsized it's merged operation there. A second option for travelers would allow low-cost carriers like Virgin America, and Spirit to gain a potential foothold, and would be attractive to flyers who hate dealing with ATL.
Consumers and regional businesses should welcome the idea of an additional airport. In most other major U.S. cities, multiple airports serve the market in different functions. For example, in Chicago and Dallas, each city has a major international airport (O'Hare and DFW, respectively) while also having a large airport that serves domestic traffic (Midway and Love Field). I definitely see justification for a second airport in Atlanta. On Thursday, the D.O.T. said they're evaluating all questions and concerns from both sides. This will be an interesting story to watch develop.
Photos via Associated Press