Investor already getting pushback over controversial airport deal

by: Aaron Diamant Updated:

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PAULDING, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News is tracking powerful pushback against a controversial deal to bring commercial airline service to another metro Atlanta airport.

Delta Airlines and the city of Atlanta seem willing to do whatever it can to keep any commercial carriers from ever taking off from Paulding County's airport.

Meantime, Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant spoke to a local lawmaker who's clearly annoyed he never got a heads up about the airport expansion deal before it got done.

"Very frustrating, very disappointing," Paulding County commissioner Todd Pownall said.

He told Diamant he is livid he was left out of the loop.

"Sitting on the couch last night at 11 o'clock is how I found out," Pownall told Diamant.

That's when Channel 2 Action News first reported the Paulding County Airport Authority had very quietly signed a long-term deal with an investment group seeking to start up commercial service at the renamed Silver Comet Field outside Dallas.

"Naturally, we hope it works, but we've got to make sure that what we do in our community is good for our community and good for our citizens," Pownall said.

Propeller Investment's CEO Brett Smith signed a 40-year lease on the terminal and a lot of surrounding land. He's already in talks with several airlines and is putting together proposals for aerospace and aviation companies to set up shop.

"The market clearly supports a second airport. There are a million people that live within 25 miles of this airport, and there are still $5.5 million people that live in the Atlanta metro area," Smith said.

But Smith is already facing powerful pushback. On Friday, Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "With the city of Atlanta and Mayor (Kasim) Reed, we will work together to oppose any investment in that facility."

Meantime, a spokesperson for Reed said in a statement to Channel 2 Action News, "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."

Propeller Investments has already committed to spend $10 million for phase one of its plan. The airport will still own the terminal and the runway.

Plus it can end its lease with Smith's company after just five years if he fails to meet certain goals.



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