FAA: City retains control while airport commission remains cente - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

FAA: City retains control while airport commission remains center of legal battle

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The Federal Aviation Administration will allow the city of Charlotte to retain control of the airport pending the outcome of the city's lawsuit against the General Assembly.

The agency, which provides oversight of all U.S. airports, sent a letter to the city Thursday morning saying it will make no decision concerning Charlotte Douglas International Airport's operating certificate until the City's lawsuit challenging the North Carolina General Assembly's airport legislation has been resolved in court.

City Attorney Robert Hagemann said, "The FAA just simply said they're not even close to taking a look at it and won't until the litigation is completed."

The legislature passed legislation over the summer that shifted control of the airport away from the city of Charlotte to a regional airport commission.

Former Mayor Richard Vinroot feels the city is involved in a series of stall tactics, ""I think the city's game plan is it should be delayed, delayed, and delayed," he said. Fine I don't think that's in the best interest of our airport of the relationship with US Airways."

The city sued saying lawmakers violated the state constitution in the way it attempted to create an airport commission.

"The FAA's decision represents a major victory for our community in the City's fight to retain control of the airport Charlotte built and validates what community leaders, the City Council, and I have said about the General Assembly's legislation from the beginning—it is significantly flawed," said Mayor Patsy Kinsey in a statement.

Meanwhile, the newly formed commission will meet next month according to former Aviation Director Jerry Orr.

He said, "They have to understand the operation of the airport and begin in fairly short order making decisions.

While the legislation remains in a court battle, the city will retain control of the airport.

On Friday, attorneys for the airport commission filed their counterclaims and asked to court to rule on two basic questions:

--Is not the commission an agency of the city and not an indenpendent special district?

--Does the city still not retain operating control and sponsor of the airport through the commission?

The briefs were filed on Friday in response to the lawsuit filed by the city last month.

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