By John Schaffner
Real estate people will always say the most important factor is location, location, location.
Lee Remmel, director of Peachtree-DeKalb Airport, says that also is the reason for his airport’s success.
The DeKalb-Peachtree Airport is the second-busiest airport in Georgia. PDK’s location eight miles from the heart of downtown Atlanta makes it the airport of choice for operators of corporate, business and general aviation aircraft.
Remmel spoke to the Sept. 8 monthly breakfast meeting of the Brookhaven Community Connection, at the Hudson Grille on Peachtree Road, about the history and relationship of PDK to DeKalb County and the Chamblee/Brookhaven area.
The airport is located on a part of the old Camp Gordon, a World War I Army training base. During World War II and the Korean War, it was Naval Air Station Atlanta. But, in 1959, it was relinquished to DeKalb County.
The airport is classified as a general aviation reliever airport for metro Atlanta, reducing air-carrier congestion by providing service for smaller general aviation aircraft.
Remmel explained that “general aviation” encompasses the entire spectrum of aircraft and aircraft-related businesses and services including the most sophisticated corporate and business jets, charters, training aircraft, helicopters, maintenance and refurbishment, and personal aircraft used for business and recreation.
“It encompasses everything but military and commercial scheduled airline service,” he added.
The airport property is about 700 acres. It currently is home to three fixed-wing and one helicopter fixed-based operators (FBOs). About 590 aircraft of all sorts and types based on the field. In recent years, the airport has averaged about 230,000 operations (takeoffs and landings) per year, or about 600 per day.
Remmel explained that PDK’s mission statement adopted by the county commission provides for the operations of a business-oriented airport in a safe, efficient and fiscally responsible manner, and stresses the importance of preserving the quality of life of the community.
As a financially self-sufficient enterprise fund of the county, PDK benefits the local and regional economy in a number of important ways without using any property tax funds whatsoever. There are 762 aviation-related jobs at the airport. Additional “indirect” benefits to the county include $14 million in visitor spending, $50 million in travel and operating cost savings and 3,600 jobs created by non-airport businesses which have indicated they would leave the county if the airport were to close.
Remmel said the fiscal year 2009 budget for the airport is more than $9 million, but it only takes $3.4-$3.5 million to run its operations. The revenue comes from tenant leases and commissions from every vendor operation at the airport. For instance, FBO leases account for about $1.45 million annually and rental cars about $64,000.