Kinton Aviation Consulting, a leading consulting firm to the aviation industry, released a report that should assist the Gwinnett County Citizens Committee in determining how to move Briscoe Airport forward.
The report identified key factors that point to success, should the redevelopment and subsequent addition of passenger service be permitted at the County airport, including gate constraints at Hartsfield International, potential ease of use and navigation of a smaller facility, convenience and increased competition in the Atlanta market providing travelers with more options, according to a press release by Angela Reba, spokeswoman for Propeller Airports.
Propeller Airports was the only entity to respond to the county's Request For Proposals back in February. The RFP was issued in December after much discussion by commissioners and public discourse that still continues.
However, before the RFP process began, Propeller had said that it wanted to begin commercial passenger flights at the county-owned airport.
Specific findings in the report include:
The more gate-constrained Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson becomes, the more it limits competition and ease of use for local passengers.
The capacity constraints of Atlanta will drive the future success of airports within a 500 mile radius of metro Atlanta.
Local travelers will utilize an airport that is closer, significantly less congested, easy and quick to navigate and offers choice.
Secondary airports probably have a better long term potential if major airports in the region become gate-constrained.
“Our experience in Boston showed that when secondary airports offer viable alternative service, economic development increases across the whole region,” said Thomas Kinton, President of Kinton and former head of Massport – which oversees three airports including Boston Logan as well as over a dozen critical transportation entities -- in a May 17 press release.
“With airlines flying in and out of Providence and Manchester Boston, the greater Boston area saw more destinations served with direct flights, competitive pricing and an ease in congestion. We believe the same thing would happen in Atlanta, which would be great for area residents.”
Brett Smith, CEO of Propeller Airports, agreed with the sentiment.
“Redeveloping Briscoe Field will improve the travel experience for metro area residents and create a significant amount of local jobs,” said Smith. “People deserve to finally have another choice; Atlanta is the only major top 10 metropolitan area in the United States without a secondary airport.
The fact that the region only has one option negatively impacts Atlanta’s economic competitiveness and its standing as a world class city.”
Proponents of privatization -- which would not necessarily mean commercial flights -- see it as a way to improve the airport's economic performance and to reinvigorate the county's economy. Most of the vocal opposition comes from residents who live near the airport and are concerned about flight noise and declining property values.
Earlier this month, the Airport Privatization Citizen Review Committee, which was set up by the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners to study the feasibilty of allowing a private company to run the county-owned facility, voted 6-0 (with five committee members abstaining) to keep the facility as a general aviation airport.