Charlotte remains in control of airport - for now - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Charlotte remains in control of airport - for now

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CHARLOTTE, NC (AP/WBTV) -

The fight over who controls Charlotte Douglas appears to be far from over.

Lawyers from both the city and the airport authority were back in court today slugging it out, and the judge who was asked by the FAA to offer an opinion over who gets the operating certificates is choosing to stay out of the fray.

A North Carolina judge says he's not in a position to rule on a key question in the legal fight to maintain control over Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Charlotte is challenging the General Assembly's move to give day-to-day operations of the airport to a new commission.

Judge Robert Ervin issued an injunction in August stopping the takeover.

On Friday, he heard motions in the case, including one asking him to decide if the commission is part of the city.

"Can you operate an airport when you don't have the federal permit?" The judge asked. "The answer seems to be no."

So much appeared to rest with Judge Robert Ervin who was asked by federal government to determine the legality of an authority by the FAA, but he's not sure that a legal ruling from a state court could stand up to federal scrutiny.

"I've got no business whatsoever in acting as a legal counsel to a federal agency in a lawsuit that they're not a party to," Ervin said.

By not making a decision, City Attorney Bob Hagemann feels that his side is gaining traction in this argument.

The City Attorney said, "Today was a significant victory for the City of Charlotte in its attempt to keep control of Charlotte Douglas Airport on behalf of the citizens of Charlotte."

During the proceedings former airport director Jerry Orr had few expressions.

However, Former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot who represents the authority says the new group will move forward with its first meeting next week.

"They'll meet this coming Thursday for the first time, but they'll be unable to manage the airport, because the FAA has not clarified the certificate issue yet," Vinroot said.

Both sides are expected to be back in court within the next 30 days.

Attorneys with the authority have indicated they want the lawsuit dismissed.

Copyright 2013 WBTV. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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