Gwinnett County officials this week issued a request for qualifications for firms interested in entering into a public-private partnership to operate Briscoe Field.
The RFQ is the next step in a Federal Aviation Administration-sponsored pilot program in which county officials will study airport privatization options and possible changes in operations. Potential options could include privatization as a general aviation airport or the addition of scheduled passenger air service.
Following the opening, an evaluation team will assess the submittals and develop a short list of pre-qualified firms that demonstrate the financial resources and management capability to improve and operate the airport. If an agreement is reached with a firm, the county then would submit a final application to the FAA; there is no timeline for the FAA to complete its review.
Final approval by the FAA will be based on a number of conditions that include the private operator’s ability to ensure continued access to the airport on reasonable terms, continued safe operations, continued maintenance and improvements, security, decreased noise and environmental impacts and continued operation of the airport in case the private operator goes bankrupt or other defaults.
“Moving forward with the RFQ is important because it will allow us to learn more about the best use of Briscoe Field and an array of privatization opportunities,” Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister said in a news release. “When we learn more about the airport operation options and interests, we can then involve the community in helping us weigh our options.”
Congress authorized the airport privatization pilot program in 1996 “to explore privatization as a means of generating access to sources of private capital for airport improvement and development.” Chosen airports would be exempt from repaying federal loans invested in their facilities.