This outside market traffic presents a tremendous opportunity for the citizens of Newton County and Covington to attract people to our beautiful community, and it’s important that the first impression is the best one possible. A viable, welcoming airport is particularly important in trying to attract new business and retain existing business.
When Atlanta East Aviation Owner Bob Riddell contracted to operate the airport, his mission was to develop the airport to its full potential. However, during the past decade, the Covington airport has been covered by a black cloud; litigation with the city of Oxford, prolonged runway closures and the threat of losing its operating contract has caused Atlanta East Aviation financial hardship and an inability to invest fully in improving the airport.
All of those obstacles are now behind us and the sky is bright blue, following a vote to retain the current contract by the Covington City Council at Tuesday’s called meeting.
Covington Mayor Kim Carter has expressed disappointment at the progress of the development of our airport, and she wants the newly formed Covington Municipal Airport Authority to take over operation.
Although we agree with the mayor that there needs to be more development progress, we disagree that the city should take over operations. The airport is best served by an independent, experienced operator, and we applaud the council for its vote. That was the right thing to do — for now.
The pressure is now on Riddell to perform and significantly improve the quality of services provided by our local airport. The goal should be to have the best and most welcoming airport in the southeast; stopping short of this could leave future business executives unimpressed and Mr. Riddell without a business.