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Monday, June 18, 2012 - 4:13am

Columbus Airport Eyes Expansion

Columbus officials say the city’s airport could potentially help relieve traffic at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. The Columbus airport would need to expand, but that's something city officials have considered before.

Columbus officials say a commission first discussed the possibility 15 years ago. The airport already sometimes serves as a reliever airport to Hartsfield during bad weather.

Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson says two airlines serve the Columbus airport, and it has capacity for three more. There’s also room to expand the airport property.

“We don’t have the limitations that they have perhaps in the North Atlanta area, trying to find significant acreage in a well-developed area. We are well developed in Columbus but we developed with a significant airport.”

Tomlinson says Columbus will first conduct a feasibility study on installing a high-speed rail line to Atlanta. She says the two projects are linked because the airports could serve as the rail line’s end points.

The discussion comes after a Gwinnett County airport last week passed on the opportunity to expand.

Tomlinson says it's not something that could happen overnight, and there are questions that need to be answered first.

“As we look at the possibilities, is it where the airport sits right now, and maybe acquiring more land that’s immediately adjacent to it?" she said. "Is that an option for further expansion? We have two runways now and it would be a matter of figuring out what the needs would be in the future.”

In large part, the move could depend on whether airlines see a demand for service. Only American Airlines and Delta Airlines offer commercial service there now.

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