A defense spending bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday contains a provision that would allow Dobbins Air Reserve Base to enter into partnerships with private companies, giving them access to the base’s runway and control tower.

The base already has a joint-use agreement over the runway with its neighbor, Lockheed Martin, but federal law restricts any other similar agreements from being signed. The new provision in the bill approved Tuesday would eliminate that restriction.

The initiative is part of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2018, which U.S. House members moved forward Tuesday by a 356-70 vote, with all three representatives whose districts include Cobb in support — Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell; Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville; and Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta.

“Transportation is a key element for businesses looking to expand, and this change opens up a whole new realm of possibilities that do not currently exist,” Loudermilk said. “Dobbins ARB is prime real estate for research development, transportation and disaster relief services. With the support of the Air Force, Lockheed and the local community, the door is now open for the continued growth and expansion of Dobbins ARB and Cobb County.”

While the overall legislation authorizes funding appropriations and sets forth policies for Department of Defense programs and activities, it includes language that repeals a clause in the 1989 National Defense Authorization Act that set Lockheed Martin as the sole private entity allowed to use the 10,000-foot runway of Dobbins.

The base is home to the U.S. Air Force’s 94th Airlift Wing and host to thousands of guardsmen, reservists and civilians from the Army, Navy and Marines.

The bill is expected to get a vote in the U.S. Senate after Thanksgiving. U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, and David Perdue, R-Georgia, have both expressed support for the measure and voted for a version of the bill in September that contained the Dobbins provision. Senate passage would send the bill to President Donald Trump for final approval.

Perdue called the restriction part of an “outdated law” that had “prevented the base from being utilized to its fullest potential.” Perdue and Isakson worked together to get the measure that would lift the exclusivity clause into the Senate’s version of the defense bill, with Isakson drafting the provision’s language and Perdue working with the Senate Armed Services Committee and its chairman, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, to get the provision added.

In addition to overturning the 1989 clause, the provision would allow Dobbins to enter into joint partnerships under the direction of the secretary of the Air Force.

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(8) comments

Concerned Citizen

It’s unbelievable that both MILITARY and PRIVATE COMPANY flights will be jointly using Dobbins AFB. This is dangerous to the safety of the community at large which is densely populated and over-developed. And the Bill reeks of problems for the noise pollution and quality of life for residents living in the Marietta area near the base. The bill is being pushed through so fast it seems there is no time for residents to oppose it. The information presented in this article is ambiguous and poorly explained.

Gringo Bandito

You must not have been here when there were F-15's taking off and landing every day. Nothing that is going on at Dobbins now or in the future will ever compare to that.

Anonymous Commenter

What safety issue with joint private and military use? O'Hare International Airport in Chicago has been joint military, private and commercial for decades. They never had a safety issue and the area around O'Hare is much more densely populated than Marietta! The only issue they ever had was the airlines complaining because all military flights have priority over all other flights, which some times adversely impacts their schedules.
Using Dobbins as an alternative commercial/private airport to Hartsfield has been talked about since at least the 1990's that I know of. Anyone who has been paying attention to the political talk about Dobbins knows that this has long been considered a possibility, especially since the DOD shut down the NAS part of the base. The only reason it has not already been done is the 1980's regulation prohibiting it. If this bill passes and becomes law, the multi-decade effort to open Dobbins up to private traffic will move forward and will probably be successful.
As for noise pollution, yes it will increase. Unfortunately that's what happens at any airport that is successfull.

Anonymous Commenter

Delta is donating to the politicians so Dobbins becomes Hartsfield #2. Traffic will be unbearable, and if you live in Cobb it will be the new landing path for hundreds or thousands of flights by 2022.

Anonymous Commenter

We could see a two airport city with Delta at Hartsfield and all other airlines flying out of Dobbins. Noise pollution might be an issue but lower air fares would benefit all (except Delta shareholders)...

Gringo Bandito

You must not be paying any attention. Delta absolutely does not want a second airport anywhere near the city. They financed all of the opposition to Paulding's plan to open a regional airport.

Anonymous Commenter

Delta is not funding politicians for this. Quite the opposite, Delta has shut down every effort to expand or build any airport that could potentially take revenue away from Hartsfield and Delta. They have way to much money invested in Hartsfield to ever want another airport nearby that would compete with Hartsfield.

Anonymous Commenter

I'm sure FedEx or UPS would prefer an additional N. Atlanta Flight operation for packages destined to N. Cobb County and beyond ~ and not have to deal with the heavy Atlanta I75 traffic.

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