In part the volume of passengers at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson is because, unlike other major metropolitan areas — New York, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston — the Atlanta area doesn’t have a second (or third) airport.
There’s been plans for a second airport since the 1970s when the city acquired about 10,000 acres in Paulding County (40 miles from the city) to build one. They still own the land. Allegiant, for one, has expressed interest in flying there should a single runway airport get built.
The new airport received FAA approvals in 2014 leaving only an environmental study in the way of final approval for commercial service that would justify building the facility. But Delta has been fighting tooth and nail against the facility — and finally drove a nail into its coffin.
There’s no negotiator in the airline business today like Delta. They squeezed American Express as its losing Costco for a new deal worth $2 billion even as the miles American Express buys are worth less. They squeeze airline partners into joint ventures. They squeeze aircraft manufacturers. That’s fair, of course. To borrow a phrase, in any 50-50 deal Delta takes the hyphen.
They also squeeze governments for subsidies. They extort politicians (and use carrots, too, comping elite status to Georgia politicians). They buy stakes in subsidized airlines. They take big subsidies directly.
Their government affairs capability pushes forward with the goal of reducing competition and raising prices. That’s behind their campaign to limit service to the US by the big Gulf airlines. It’s behind their opposition to a new airport in Atlanta.
It states that the city of Atlanta “does not currently plan to and will not own or operate any other commercial service airport” other than Hartsfield-Jackson, “and will not include any other airports of any type, as a part of any City airport system,” according to the agreement to be weighed by the city council.
Make no mistake, anything Delta lobbies for is in its own cronyist interests — to protect and extend its advantages over competitors.