A few weeks back, the Gwinnett County, Georgia government began looking into privatizing Briscoe Field (LZU).
Gwinnett considers privatizing airport
Company wants to make Briscoe Field a private enterprise
The unnamed company involved in negotiations wants to convert the airport into a private enterprise under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Privatization Pilot Program, county officials said. That program allows private companies to own, manage, lease and develop public airports. It authorized the FAA to permit up to five public entities to sell or lease an airport and to exempt them from certain federal requirements that could otherwise make privatization impractical.
The name of the unnamed company and their proposal for LZU has been publicly released.
Airline flights from Gwinnett? Firm makes a pitch
AJC Exclusive: NY group envisions 20 daily commercial flights at Briscoe Field
A New York firm has told Gwinnett County leaders that it would like to acquire Briscoe Field near Lawrenceville, expand the runway and begin up to 20 daily commercial flights to such destinations as New York, Chicago and Washington, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.
Propeller Investments, the private equity firm behind the idea, would install 10 gates at a new terminal at Briscoe and enable planes as large as the Boeing 737 to land and take off from Gwinnett’s airport, said Propeller’s managing director, Brett Smith.
They've even got a website outlining their proposal:
Local reaction to this proposal is mixed.
Mixed reaction to privatizing Briscoe
Proposal to expand Gwinnett airport panned by former lawmaker
A bid to privatize and expand Gwinnett County’s Briscoe Field received more endorsements Tuesday when leaders from two community groups told county commissioners to move ahead with the measure. But one man who knows something about airport expansion panned the plan.
Vinson Wall, the former legislator from Lawrenceville who fought plans to turn Briscoe into a 33-gate “reliever” for Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport 16 years ago, is dead set against the privatization proposal.
I lived in Gwinnett County back in the early 90s when the proposal to turn LZU into a reliever airport with 33 gates was proposed and public outcry was huge. Many of the residents in the area around LZU were already spitting mad because the county built the new jail right their backyard, and this was adding fuel to the fire. Some of the upgrades they did do at LZU in the early 90s were compromises, like the runway extension. Originally, the runway was going to be lengthened to accommodate a/c as large as the 747 (They were not expecting scheduled service from the type, but as part of the reliever airport, they needed to accommodate any a/c type ATL sees.). The current runway length was that compromise. Local residents even fought the construction of a control tower.
I think that this project has legs, as the area around LZU has changed quite a bit in the last 15 years. There are quite a number of business and industrial parks along GA-316 (Which at the time the reliever airport proposal was around, was in the early stages of being widened and extended to Athens.). Location-wise, it is more suited to be a commercial airport than WDR (Northeast Georgia Regional Airport) and AHN (Athens-Ben Epps Airport, which currently has EAS flights to ATL operated by Georgia Skies.).
Of course the big question is "What airline(s) would be willing to serve LZU?" To me, this sounds like the perfect opportunity for WN to enter the Atlanta market (Or for B6 to re-enter the ATL market.). This airport in some ways would be along the lines of say somewhere like ISP or even LGB. I doubt that DL or FL would serve this airport, but I would not be surprised if UA, US, AA, or CO would serve it a few times a day if this project comes to fruition.