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More Legal Challenges To Taxi Changes At CLT Airport

http://66.225.205.104/JR20110707.mp3

Another lawsuit has been filed against the City of Charlotte over a plan to strip eight taxi companies and their drivers of permits to work the airport. The controversial limits take effect on July 17. Three separate lawsuits now hope to stop the change. The latest legal challenge comes from the owner of Universal Cab. Mohamed Moustafa claims Charlotte airport officials conspired with the Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance to offer airport contracts only to companies that agreed to become a major sponsor of the tourism booster group. Moustafa says his refusal to pay left him off the final airport contract list. "The way they did this process is 100 percent 'pay to play' scheme," says Moustafa. He also says he was discriminated against because of his Middle Eastern origin and prior disagreements with tourism officials. Airport and tourism officials have denied Moustafa's allegations. The Universal Cab lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court, asks for an injunction on the new airport contracts set to take effect July 17. On that day, eight companies and several dozen drivers who have spent years working exclusively at the airport will be forced to compete for fares on the street instead. Diamond Cab driver Abdi Mohamed is one of them. He's also suing the city to stop the change. "You don't have that much business on the street," says Mohamed. "I will be unemployed from July 17 if this thing works out." The same will be true of several drivers who work for King and Royal Cab. That company is also suing, saying the city unfairly eliminated King/Royal from the bid process because two of its owners are convicted felons. A Mecklenburg County judge refused a preliminary request to block the new airport contracts. The only companies that will be authorized to post taxis at the airport after July 17 are Crown Cab, Yellow Cab and City Cab. They have promised to offer newer cars with updated technology. Airport officials hope the change will make a better first impression on visitors to the city.