Another page appears to have been turned in efforts to market Paulding County’s airport for general aviation uses.
Paulding County Airport Authority voted earlier this week to renovate office space in the airport terminal building and change the airport’s name on a sign at its main entrance on U.S. Hwy. 278 — removing more evidence it did business with a longtime tenant.
The new name will be its former name, Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport, which is how the Federal Aviation Administration has referred to it through most of the facility’s 11-year existence.
Its renovation plan includes spending up to $20,000 to convert Silver Comet Terminal Partners’ former offices in the terminal building into a new airport authority meeting room and work space. It now meets in the Paulding County Commission’s meeting room in the government and judicial complex in Dallas.
Both actions stem from its late 2018 cancellation of its service contract and office lease with Silver Comet, which is affiliated with New York-based Propeller Airports and had leased an office in the terminal building since 2013.
The airport opened in 2008 at the start of the Great Recession. After it was unable to attract corporate customers as a general aviation facility, the airport authority contracted with Silver Comet in 2012 to help develop it as a commercial facility, including recruiting a commercial passenger airline.
The authority applied in 2013 for FAA certification allowing Paulding’s airport to host commercial service and later changed the name to Silver Comet Field.
However, after almost five years of legal challenges from county residents, the Paulding County Commission and the city of Atlanta, the FAA opted to end consideration of commercial certification in mid-2018.
Then-Gov. Nathan Deal announced in October 2018 plans for construction of a $35 million state aviation maintenance training school on the airport property.
Authority officials later said they were ending the contract with Silver Comet because it failed to comply with contract terms requiring recruitment of tenants to the airport and a lease of the entire 18,000-square-foot terminal building.
Silver Comet denied the authority’s claims and said bad publicity from its controversial commercialization effort helped thwart its recruitment work.
Other Silver Comet claims in a federal lawsuit it filed in late 2018 included the airport authority not disclosing negotiations and plans for use of potential development land for the aviation maintenance training school.
In the lawsuit, Silver Comet said it wanted a jury to decide how much it should be compensated for the “substantial expenses” it said it spent to market and prepare the airport and terminal building for commercial flights.