Cobb to Welcome International Flights

Hiring a customs agent will keep McCollum competitive with area airports that already accept passengers from other countries, Commissioner Bob Ott said.

International flights will soon be able to land at Cobb County’s airport.

The  on Tuesday approved an agreement with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection that will station a customs agent at Cobb County Airport-McCollum Field.

“It’s really just to keep the airport competitive,” Commissioner Bob Ott said, noting that other area airports are already eligible for accepting international flights.

The agent will cost $140,874 for the first year and $123,438 for succeeding years. The money will come from the airport’s two "fixed-based operators," or long-term tenants: Atlanta Northside Aviation and Preferred Jet Center.

Ott, a member of the county’s Airport Advisory Board, emphasized that county money won’t be spent. He said that before the customs agent is hired, agreements must be finalized between the tenants and Cobb to ensure they’re the ones paying U.S. Customs.

“Nothing will go in place until the agreements are in place for them to pay it,” he said.

The Airport Advisory Board has been looking at hiring a customs agent for more than a year, Ott said. The tenants “felt like they were missing out on some potential traffic for customers because we were the only ones that didn’t have” an agent, he added.

Ott described how regulations allow airports near Hartsfield-Jackson, like Peachtree DeKalb Airport and Fulton County Airport, to request a customs agent from Hartsfield-Jackson as needed rather than hiring their own.

But McCollum is outside the allowable radius from Hartsfield-Jackson to request agents, the commissioner added.

That distance may prove to be advantageous once the customs agent is in place, Ott said. International flights needing to land in the area will want to fly into Cobb because it’s away from the congested Atlanta airspace, he added.

To meet U.S. Customs’ facility standards, an airport maintenance garage will likely be converted into office space for the customs agent. A new garage would then be constructed at a different location.

McCollum employs about 185 people and has a local economic impact of more than $47 million, according to Discover Atlanta.


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