A Second Atlanta Airport Gets Closer to Reality, While Delta Fights Against It Tooth and Nail

Atlanta is the busiest airport and it’s dominated by Delta. So just like American Airlines fought hard against Southwest Airlines resurrecting use of Dallas Love Field in the 1970s, Delta is fighting to stop Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport, about 40 miles from the city, from starting to allow commercial service.

The airport is getting closer to becoming a reality.

The approval by the Federal Aviation Authority, related to the handling of federal grants for the Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport, clears the way for the environmental study that is seen as the last major step before the FAA would decide on whether to allow commercial service at the single-runway airport, located about 40 miles from Atlanta.

And Delta doesn’t like it one bit.

Delta, its pilots’ union, Atlanta’s mayor and some local residents say the county’s real goal is to build a commercial hub, a project that is unnecessary, wasteful and doomed to become a costly failure.

Yes, a dastardly plot to “build a commercial hub.”

I’d think the fact that the world’s busiest airport is 40 miles away would be a reasonable indication that it might not be doomed to become a costly failure, and might even become a modest success.

Although I’m not surprised that Delta would consider competition for its main hub to be “unnecessary.” It’s unnecessary for Delta.

The City of Atlanta used to consider a second airport to be a valuable project — in the 1970s they acquired about 10,000 acres in Paulding County to build one. They still own the land.

So far this menace of an idea for a single runway airport has secured interest from Allegiant.

We’ll see what kind of return Delta is able to get from comping elite status to Georgia politicians.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It’s hard to argue that Allegiant is going steal much business from ATL. In my observation, Allegiant’s strategy in the Southeast is to fly vacationers to the beach who would otherwise drive if it weren’t for the ultra low fares under $100 rt that Allegiant offers. They’ve done well out of USA and are increasing their presence there. I wonder how much business they’ve actually taken from CLT. My guess would be not much.

  2. Good luck with this. GIANT WASTE OF MONEY. Maybe these geniuses can build an additional airport in Detroit next.

  3. It’s like LBE to PIT. The new airport is so far from the city and Atlanta’s surrounding metro (Marietta, Gwinnett County.) I guess ULCC like Allegiant and Spirit might move there but it will never be as important as DAL or HOU.

  4. I say it doesn’t have a chance, but if Delta is worried maybe it can work. The truth is we need competition and some how the busiest airport in the world can’t attract more airlines to fly here. Oh wait, they got virgin Atlantic haha.
    Why does B6, VX, EY, EK, QR, AV, LA, CM don’t want to fly to ATL? Total mystery

  5. A second airport in the Atlanta area? That will never work, just look at Love, Midway, BWI, Hobby, Palm Springs, Orange County, LaGuardia, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Reagan, etc… No one ever flies to those airports, what a total unnecessary waste!! 😉

    It’s a good thing Delta, The city of Atlanta and 3 local residents don’t make policy in Paulding County.

  6. As a resident of Atlanta, I think the traffic and volume is big enough that there needs to be a second airport much like other big cities. Many people fly in to the airport which is located in the south part of the city, only to have to drive an hour north to the suburbs. This would be just small enough and close to the major suburbs (well, I guess Cobb County in general, much like the Atlanta Braves moving their stadium there) to be a viable alternative.

  7. Once you factor in horrendous traffic and where much of Atlanta’s job and population growth is projected to happen, the second airport starts making more sense.

    Seattle has a similar issue brewing with Paine Field in Everett.

  8. Delta has nothing to worry about. No one will goto Paulding County to fly commercial. They would likely go THROUGH Cobb County. Cobb County has their own mass transit that is NOT MARTA, and they don’t play in the sandbox well together. That means there will be no option for mass transit other than train(MARTA) connection to bus (MARTA or CCCT), connection to another bus(CCCT), connection to some other form of mass transit on the other side of Cobb (Bus or train?)

    ATL will keep any customers that rely on MARTA (which is a lot).

    additionally, driving to Paulding County is only convenient for those NW of Atlanta. All other (NE,SW,SE) portions of Atlanta either have to drive through downtown or on the perimeter to get to Paulding. It’s easier to drive to ATL.

    The only thing a Paulding County airport has going for itself is that the Braves are moving to Cobb County. So all the masses of people that travel to Atlanta to see a Braves game might choose Paulding as an option……

  9. @7 and all of those cities are larger than Atlanta. Atlanta has outsized commercial air service relative to its population precisely because it only has one airport.

    The idea of a second Atlanta airport is certainly a waste of money. Hartsfield is not slot restricted, there is space available. An airport in Paulding County does not provide any service that Hartsfield can’t, it’s only advantage is that it is closer to certain suburbs and honestly, because of the way the roads are setup there it is only closer to some suburbs,

  10. @Kevin
    The difference being that many of those airports are close to the city center or have enough population close to them.
    Not that I am oppose, but I think the real issue is that is not an Atlanta airport, it is the Delta airport (Deltaport).

  11. Atlanta and Delta really don’t have anything to worry about. Because of topography, the airport could never grow to compete with Hartsfield. It will not be a second major airport for the city, like Midway/O’Hare. But it will bring in MRO companies and stimulate the economy in Paulding County. #letpauldingfly

  12. Dobbins was considered in 1941, when the Atlanta City Council got behind plans to build a second airport for Atlanta and it was named Rickenbacker Field (Rickenbacker was CEO of Eastern Airlines around that time. Pearl Harbor dashed those plans, as Rickenbacker Field became a military installation.

  13. Paulding County misses the lion’s share of metro Atlanta’s fastest-growing suburbs, which include Gwinnett County and south Forsyth County (as well as parts of north Fulton County, home to Johns Creek, Alpharetta, Milton and Roswell). Try driving from anywhere Gwinnett County to Paulding County almost any time of day and you’ll know what I mean. In the 1970s, the city of Atlanta also bought 10,000 acres for possible 2nd airport in Dawson County, which would be more convenient to more of the metro’s biggest suburbs (which are spread out between 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock if the map were a clock ). The Dawson land is closer to straight-up 12 o’clock on the Atlanta map (vs. 9:30 for Paulding). Pauilding would be difficult to reach for anyone east of 12′ o’clock, where a huge population now lives in places such as Johns Creek and all of Gwinnett County.

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