FAA gives preliminary approval to Briscoe privatization plan

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett County has preliminary approval to move ahead with a proposal to privatize the local airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration accepted a pre-application for Briscoe Field to be included in a pilot program to pursue privatization without having to pay back federal grants. Gwinnett now has the fourth of the five reserved slots, although the move does not guarantee the airport will be leased or sold.

The pre-approval allows the county to move forward with a study, including extensive public input. While Propeller Investments has brought forward a proposal to take over the general aviation airport and open it up to scheduled commercial flights, the county's private partner would be selected through a bid process.

"The Board of Commissioners and staff are looking forward to launching the lengthy process of studying potential airport operations and management opportunities," Commission Chairman Charles Bannister said. "Like most communities today, Gwinnett is looking to identify significant new revenue sources through efficiencies, user fees and privatization or sale of valuable assets. Any financial benefit for taxpayers must be balanced with safety and other impacts to our community. In addition to exploring the environmental and economic impacts, we will conduct an extensive community outreach and involvement program. I expect county staff to meet with citizens and other interested parties and stakeholders throughout the process."