Do we need a second airport?

Do you think Atlanta needs a second airport?

A federally funded study this spring re-examined the issue and looked at eight potential locations — concluding none is economically feasible, AJC reporter Kelly Yamanouchi writes.

But, Yamanouchi points out, Atlanta remains one of the few major U.S. cities without a second commercial airport.

Supporters say a second airport could bring more competition and, depending on the location, better convenience for northside travelers, Yamanouchi writes.

But major obstacles include high costs and the likelihood of intense local opposition to any site considered, Yamanouchi reports.

What do you think? How do you size up the benefits vs. costs?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

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37 comments Add your comment

Road Scholar

June 27th, 2011
7:11 am

Because of NIMBY we will not get one. To answer the question, no. Better ground transportation including transit is where we should put the money.

Road Scholar

June 27th, 2011
7:13 am

Perhaps a second airport to handle freight only, to distribute the fastest growing segment of air impact.


June 27th, 2011
7:23 am

Road Scholar is correct! No one wants 737’s landing in their back yard. The question is; What area of the city would you condemn?

Burroughston Broch

June 27th, 2011
7:30 am

It’s curious that this study (and others as well) ignores the two 10,000 acre sites owned by the City of Atlanta as potential 2nd airport sites. One is in Paulding County and the other is in Dawson County, if memory serves. Each site is over twice as large as the existing airport (4700 acres).

Quality of Life

June 27th, 2011
7:42 am

Everyone wants roads, utilities and conveniences for themselves, but not in my back yard. Look at the traffic coming out of Gwinnett. All the cars with single drivers even with HOV lane. So Hartsfield Jackson was given $1 million to produce their own report for the FAA? Wow, that’s a good $ spent. Their biggest threat is Gwinnett and shifting all the revenue economic benefit to Gwinnett. City of Atlanta has been mis-spending all the pork that airport has generated for years. Gwinnett not being market is hogwash. I say drop that second small regional airport in Gwinnett with all the right restrictions and just watch how well community improves their quality of life.


June 27th, 2011
8:04 am

Yes….but….the cost will prevent it from happenning. Just not going to happen.


June 27th, 2011
8:20 am

A second airport is essential! Either the Paulding County site or, wait for it, Charlie Brown would be ideal! If you want only passenger traffic, Charlie Brown is convenient and could easily be connected to ATL by train! If you want just cargo or a combination of cargo and passenger, the Paulding site is ideal and could also be connected to ATL! Either way, the private-corporate-not commercial traffic must be routed away from ATL to insure safety and growth of commercial air traffic. Just building another runway is not a solution!!


June 27th, 2011
8:29 am

Also Peachtree-Dekalb could serve private-commuter traffic. Those living around the airport knew that it was there when they bought the properties-at reduced prices no less-knowing that the airport was there and there always was a possibility of expansion. A similar situation occurred in Greensboro, NC at GSO when FEDEX wanted to locate there but needed an expanded or a new runway. The homeowners living around the airport, who incidentally bought their properties at reduced prices because of the airport complained and filed lawsuits to stop it. The Judge ruled that SINCE THEY BOUGHT THE PROPERTIES KNOWING THE AIRPORT WAS THERE AND COULD POSSIBLY EXPAND, THEY HAD NO STANDING TO SUE TO PREVENT THAT EXPANSION!!! Should be the same here!

Mr. H. Jublome

June 27th, 2011
8:34 am

Well duh. Atlanta is WAY overdue for a second airport.

An enlightened city would have put an additional airport in long. Atlanta should already be reaping the economic benefits instead of gripping and floundering in traffic. Hartsfield is an over-grown, time-wasting freak convenient only to the south side of the city – where little of the actual business is conduced. Every similar-sized competitive city has at least two airports.

Jan Brown

June 27th, 2011
8:42 am

The fact that Atlanta does not have a second airport is ludicrous. Before we got the moniker of Atlanta and were referred to as Terminus, we had the geographical obligation to aide east-west and north-south transportation for our part of the United States. We have the same obligation today. Hartsfield does a good job overall, but is stretched beyond capacity. The Atlanta airport is the stuff of late night talk show host comedy. It will only be a matter of time before the rest of the country demands better service. We can either have the feds force the issue or do it our way. I’d prefer the latter, but it’s coming either way.


June 27th, 2011
8:51 am

Yeah, just what we need, another mis-managed Atlanta airport.


June 27th, 2011
8:53 am

Its not cost, its not feasibility; its all politics. ATL is an abmonination!! That place has been corrupt from the get go. They can’t stand any competition and they know it. If you have ever flown a small regional airport – Punta Gorda, FL, Jacksonville, NC, Wilmington, NC, Myrtle Beach, SC….so many more, you would know it is feasible, successful and minimally impacting on the local area. The yahoos not five miles from my house are so sure one day that the homes they bought near Briscoe field (knowing there was an airport there!) are going to turn into elegant mansions as long as we stop the airport expansion. One day, my friends, its coming. Its just a matter of where and who benefits from it.
I personally think Gwinnett is ideally suited and has enough infrastructure and intiative to get this going. But will the quiet, reasonable minded people come out and be heard against the screamers who throw out lies about expanding runways, condemning property, noise – oh the noise! They are flawed arguments. The problem is reason is not as loud as a handful of protesters.
One day they will see it …….just a matter of when.


June 27th, 2011
8:58 am

And can I please interest those of you who see reason to consider joining flygwinnettforward? Just a thought. The quiet voices must get in the game too!


June 27th, 2011
9:01 am

For all those complaining about Hartsfield-Jackson… have you ever flown into other airports around the country and world? We really don’t have it that bad.


June 27th, 2011
9:01 am

Rail is being ignored in this whole discussion. For distances of 400 miles or less, rail with currently available technology can be faster than air door-to-door. Eliminate air travel for those distances and there’s plenty of spare capacity.


June 27th, 2011
9:15 am

Anything that cuts back on the money that pours from Hartsfield into the pockets of corrupt Fulton and Clayton County politicians would be a good thing. Having an airport that isn’t staffed by surly political patronage slugs would be a welcome added bonus.


June 27th, 2011
9:15 am

Do the Gwinnett commissioners and/or family members have any property left?


June 27th, 2011
9:21 am

How about we work on making Hartsfield less of a hassle/fustercluck before we start talking about a 2nd fustercluck? Hartsfield will never be world-class as long as they keep wasting money on unnecessary terminals (ANOTHER international terminal?!?!) instead of necessary improvements like:

- a cell phone lot. the constant circling and circling does nothing for congestion
- separate arrivals/departures levels. EVERY major airport except Atlanta has this. The people dropping off take way too long causing the people waiting to pick up to clog up the access roads. TWO LEVELS is the only answer
- parking garage overhead walkways that don’t require people to cross crosswalks across the BUSIEST single-level arrivals/departures terminal


June 27th, 2011
9:24 am

definitely steve! no joke. but no one seems to want to build high speed rail. everyone refers to it as a boondoggle. which is absurd.

the reality is there is an airport less than two hours away. in chattanooga. connect the two via rail and well, there’s your second airport. why go to gwinnett and deal with what one would have to deal with?


June 27th, 2011
9:51 am

All of these airport managers who got their training and expertise from watching Action News chiming in about how to run the world’s bussiest airoport say it aint so.

Another Cynic

June 27th, 2011
9:52 am

@ Mateo
You are absolutely correct my friend. I always laugh when people complain about Hartsfield-Jackson and claim how terrible and inefficient it is. Most people don’t realize the airport has been voted as the most efficiently run airport in the world since 2006 (Air Transport Research Society), which says something considering it is also the world’s busiest. We can all agree that the City of Atlanta Government fails in many areas, but running this airport isn’t one of them. HJIA is a cash cow and that’s exactly why the State wants to take it over and/or privatize it (not because it is poorly managed as people like to claim).

I doubt a second airport will be built in this region primarily due to NIMBYISM and especially now that Southwest Airlines has entered the Atlanta market. The focus should be on increasing rail connectivity anyway.


June 27th, 2011
10:26 am

Why are we being held hostage by an airport on the wrong side of the city? Money to support the City of Atlanta is the answer. The only way to reduce traffic flow into the city is to enable the majority of travelers, who live on the north side, another option. The airport people will of course say the have options a simply untrue assertion. How about an option where every traveler beginning their travel at the world’s busiest airport doesnt get channeled through one security line. Common sense has a play here but its not politically expedient. We will never get a second airport its too much money for the idiots in the city government. Kind of reminds you or the millstone that is MARTA.

W. Vellegas

June 27th, 2011
10:44 am

It works great in Chicago!

Over this...

June 27th, 2011
10:54 am

All you northern suburbs types want a new airport so you don’t have to go to the bad side of town. Fine. But I bet NOT ONE OF YOU wants it in your pretty suburb.

David Ralston

June 27th, 2011
10:59 am

Most on the northside want a second airport but they have the “not in my backyard” mentality, you can’ have it both ways.

Another Cynic

June 27th, 2011
11:05 am

@ Pointless
Very curious to know where you think this 2nd airport should be built? Dobbins Reserve would have been a good option, but the residents in Cobb County would fight against that move all the way to their graves. I can guarantee the majority of the people residing in North Fulton, Cherokee, Cobb, Forsyth and even Paulding County DO NOT want an airport anywhere near their neighborhoods. Good luck finding a suitable and acceptable site on the “right side of town”.

Chief Wiggum

June 27th, 2011
11:23 am

I’ve been trying to comment all morning. I emailed Henry about the holdup of my comments, he can’t seem to find them. Frustrating. Thanks a bunch, AJC!

Anyway, I am somewhat familiar with this, as I have been involved with all of this (but I am not in any way involved in the current study). Simply, metro Atlanta will indeed need more capacity, in terms of number of arrivals and departures. The fifth runway bought us some time, but we will, some time in this decade, get to where demand is greater than supply (of landing slots).

I believe the most logical choices are places like Dobbins and Gwinnett. The study seems to price an “all or nothing” approach, with costs running from nearly $2 billion up for a full solution. I see no reason that a partial solution could not work, upgrade and expand an existing facility to handle commercial air traffic. Remember, it will be a reliever, so it does not need to be HUGE, especially at first. My opinion, work with the airlines to move 50-100 flights a day away to the new facility, generally move one flight from a destination headed to Atlanta to the new airport, for folks who are not changing aircraft in ATL.

A new sixth runway at Hartsfield will cost at least $1 billion, and will likely be in excess of $2 billion. The fifth runway was over $1 billion with all of the real estate, design, management, and construction. A new reliever airport would cost less, but it would cost the airlines more, as they would have to build their support structure at the new airport. That is why they oppose it. They always have done that, always will.

It will probably take something extreme to spur action, when Hartsfield becomes “slot restricted” and no more flights can be added. Of course, once that happens, it’s almost too late to then start planning for a new airport.

Oh, also, for those that complain about the efficiency of the airport, none of this has to do with this. This is purely runway capacity. We are fortunate to have 5 parallel runways, which helps, but we will be approaching capacity of that quickly.


June 27th, 2011
11:46 am

Metro Atlanta doesn’t have a 2nd airport because all resources have been poured into ATL for the last several decades. That economic engine won’t stop, people. It matters not that the population center is somewhere near the top of I-285. Have you been to Denver? Its airport is farther from Downtown (26mi) than much of the north burbs are from ATL. Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Houston all have 2nd airports because those cities built newer and bigger airports farther out of town (in the 60’s and 70’s) and then the old airport was rediscovered years later as more convenient. Atlanta never had that scenario, and it’s too late to create it now. The airlines don’t want it, and I don’t just mean Delta and AirTran (Southwest). Improved ground transportation is the answer, to make it more convenient for the northerners to reach ATL. Georgia as a state is so far behind the curve on efficient regional rail transportation that it may never catch up. It’s all talk yet virtually no action. That is the real problem. In Europe, most airports are connected by regional rail transportation, and they support vs compete with one another as viable modes of transportation. That concept has largely not caught on in the US of A. Maybe one day and, if so, hopefully in Metro Atlanta!


June 27th, 2011
12:25 pm

Th author forgot to mention NYC, which has three overloaded airports, Idlewild, La Guardia, and Newark.


June 27th, 2011
12:50 pm

One word why ATL will not have a second airport. DELTA!


June 27th, 2011
1:40 pm

One may wonder why only the City of Atlanta is seriously looking at creating a second major commercial airport in North Georgia. If City of Atlanta is so incompetent and the airport so poorly run then: (1) why is it the busiest in the world; (2) why is it such a huge economic engine for this State including mainly areas outside of the City of Atlanta’s city limits; and (3) why can’t any of these know-it-alls in the northern Suburbs or the Georgia legislature get their act together to create a second airport?


June 27th, 2011
2:01 pm

No I do not want a second airport. I rarely fly anymore so the infrequent MARTA ride to Hartsfield is no big.

God forbid I have to be a frequent flyer, dealing with thug TSA screeners and rude airline employees, then and only then might I see the need for another one – in someone else’s back yard.

Mass Dawg

June 27th, 2011
2:55 pm

The Hartsfield Jackson airport is so big that it has become a terrible time waster for travelers. It would make so much sense to have another airport, to help relieve some of the constraints the current airport is experiencing. As a business man who flies frequently, I hate the fact that I have to account for a one hour ride to the airport, a half hour to park my car and walk to the airport ,a 30 minute wait at security, and another 15 mintes to get on the train and get to the gate. That’s 2:15 on a good day before my flight. World’s largest airport, you can have it. This city is so insecure. It parades the idea around that the world largest airport is a badge. Like everything else in ATL, the infrastructure needs a major work overhaul.

1 more

June 27th, 2011
10:53 pm

build the airport up in cartersville—it will be lot more convenient for me instead of dealing with all that rif raf around atl airport and rude police and staff.

Texas Marron

June 28th, 2011
2:06 pm

As a former Atlantan living elsewhere who flies fairly often, I put in my two cents:
to Freakin flyer: HJIA does need ain international terminal for the A380, and to alleviate having to go through through Customs then having to go back through a bag check even if Atl is your final stop. I agree–HJIA needs a cell phone lot. I can tell you most but not every major airporthas separate levels for arrivals and departures;

To GA onmymind: I agree; rail connections are necessary; I hope they retrofit the new intl terminal to MARTA or to a commuter rail;

TO Another Cynic: I agree, but while HJIA is not my ideal airport, I dislike some other airports even more, such as Boston Logan

To Atlmon- I agree with using rail connections to connect Birmingham and Chattanooga airports to Atl.

To Mass Dawg–No HJIA is not that big; try DFW or Houston Bush IAH.


June 30th, 2011
9:20 pm

Direct flights to NYC, Mia, Wash, Den & LA from Briscoe Field at I-85 & GA 316 would be enough for me!

Hartsfield is one of the most efficient and amazing operations of its kind in the world – too bad some folks do not appreciate it.


July 3rd, 2011
10:58 pm

The Dawson County property owned by the City of Atlanta, is now a nature park. It is in the middle of nowhere with no infrastructure in place (no 4 lane roads, and the topography is not conducive, 53 is too windy and steep). Ace Hardware, the only hardware store in the area, is constantly been closed for lack of business. An airport up there would risk polluting feeder streams. It looks like the City of Atlanta will build a water reservoir instead. Good for all interest (well, except the aviation speculators of yesteryear).