Authority devotes funds to study McCollum possibilities
by Nikki Wiley
December 02, 2013 12:00 AM | 319 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA - The Development Authority of Cobb County plans to spend $24,500 for a study officials hope will let private charter companies know the needs of their customers.

Cobb County Airport-McCollum Field officials hope to gain insight into the origin and destinations of flyers and encourage private charter flights to cater to popular routes.

The Development Authority has agreed to spend $24,500 on the analysis. No firm has been chosen, but airport manager Karl Von Hagelsays the airport had conversations with Colorado-based Boyd Group International, an aviation planning firm.

Nelson Geter, executive director of the authority, says having multiple travel options helps Cobb retain Fortune 500 businesses like Home Depot that are based in the Cumberland area.

"Any airport is essential to commerce, particularly one of this magnitude regarding the use of private aircraft to get corporate executives in and out of the county," Geter said.

If a Cobb-based company frequently charters flights for its executives to New York City, then a private business may attempt to capitalize on that trend and offer flights along the same route.

Four air charter companies - Atlanta Air Charter, Flight Works, Air Southeast and Southern Jet - operate now out of the Cobb airport. Commercial flights are not offered at the airport.

About 200 aircraft are based at the airport, which sees an average of 170 takeoffs or landings each day.

A 2010 state economic impact study said the airport supports 842 jobs and pumps $112.4 million into the local economy each year.

Von Hagel says the county itself would not add flights but would use the study to help direct businesses.

"Where are people flying?" Von Hagel asked. "Where would new opportunities at the airport exist to create strategic relationships and to offer charter services?"

These are questions the airport doesn't have many answers to now.

"We don't have much information on that item at all," Von Hagel said. "We have flight plans based on some of the private aircraft but it doesn't give us a big picture."

Most flyers at the Cobb airport are executives traveling to other cities for business, and few travelers are tourists.

Right now, most of the business for the airport's charter companies comes to them.

But because the airport is fully developed, Von Hagel said it will have to look to other ways to grow business.

"For us to increase our economic impact to the community, we'll need to find ways to increase services," he said.

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