Aerotropolis Atlanta President and CEO Shannon James, third from left, seated on front row, attended the Sustainable Airport Area seminar in Beijing. Photo: AeroATL

The Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance is in talks with Beijing to cross-promote their airport areas for investment in a partnership similar to what the city has maintained with Paris in recent years.

Alliance President and CEO Shannon James traveled to China in October for a Sustainable Airport Areas seminar hosted by Hubstart Paris, the economic development agency promoting the airport area in the greater Roissy region.

Hubstart has hosted annual seminars in China before, with Atlanta joining as one of the original partners in a fraternity of airport areas aiming to rev up their massive economic development engines for the good of their cities.

After Paris and Atlanta traded hosting duties for a few SAA seminars, the two brought Shanghai into the fold in 2014 with an event there featuring speakers from both Atlanta and Paris.

This year’s event was held in partnership with the Beijing New Aerotropolis, an economic zone planned around Beijing Daxing International Airport, a new airport set to open in the Chinese capital next fall at a cost of about $13 billion.

Beijing Capital Airport, the city’s existing gateway, was once thought to be a potential challenger to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for the “busiest in the world” title, but constraints have curtailed its rapid growth. Daxing airport, itself with a planned capacity of 100 million eventually, is set to relieve some of the pressure on Beijing Capital.

Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance Inc. President and CEO Shannon W. James Sr. and Woodward Academy President Stuart Gulley, who also chairs the alliance, take home an award from the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Mr. James couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

He was accompanied on the Beijing trip by Gerald McDowell, executive director of the Aerotropolis Atlanta Community Improvement Districts and an Aerotropolis Atlanta Executive Board Member, according to an Aerotropolis Atlanta newsletter.

This wouldn’t be the first airport-area collaboration between Atlanta and China. Hartsfield-Jackson and Shanghai Airports Authority deepened their partnership in July, inking a new memorandum of understanding as Delta Air Lines Inc. launched a new flight connecting the two cities. Hartsfield-Jackson has long played host to Chinese airport officials looking to learn best practices from the world’s busiest and most efficient airport.

This latest international foray for Aerotropolis Atlanta comes at a time when the organization is better building its local connectivity. The alliance has launched a small business of the month recognition, this month recognizing Clayton County manufacturer LTI, which has made custom food service equipment in Jonesboro for 71 years.

The alliance also received the Atlanta Regional Commission’s 2018 Development of Excellence Award in the “Great Place” category. 

The annual State of the Aerotropolis event is set to be held Dec. 14. More info on that here.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...