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Status Of Orr, Airport Still Uncertain


In the final hours of the legislative session Friday morning, state lawmakers passed yet another bill to change control of the Charlotte airport and reinstate ousted aviation director Jerry Orr. 

Here's a quick rundown on the status of the airport:

Who's in charge at the airport right now? 

It's still the city and interim aviation director Brent Cagle who was appointed in Orr's place last week.  We've basically got a ceasefire at the moment. Orr's attorney – Richard Vinroot says the new airport commission created by the legislature is legally in charge of operations at the airport and that Orr is the rightful director of that commission.

However, there is a temporary restraining order in effect until next Thursday on the original airport authority bill and Vinroot says marching Orr back out to the airport right now could only make for more turmoil.

"We're not out there like MacArthur saying, 'We have returned,'" said Vinroot at a press conference Friday afternoon. "We're gonna wait until the court talks to us next week and essentially approach it like reasonable people ought to approach it."

The city filed a lawsuit immediately after the original airport authority bill was passed last week. Did they do the same for this one?

No. City Manager Ron Carlee says the bill is complicated and they're considering all their options.

"The city is not making rash judgments about what it does or does not do," said Carlee in a press conference held after Orr's press conference.

Mayor Patsy Kinsey has called a special meeting of the city council for Monday at 4:30 p.m. to discuss their options. Carlee did seem to leave the door open to the possibility that the city won't challenge this new commission in court.

And what does Jerry Orr think about all of this?

He's the reason this new bill was passed last night. Lawmakers said they were intent on getting him back in charge of the airport, so they made some concessions to the city – by giving it majority control over the commission and leaving the airport property and bonds in the city's ownership.  Here's what Orr thinks about that: "It's a compromise bill. Of course I wouldn't be pleased with a compromise."

It's pretty clear Orr would like to run the airport with as much autonomy as possible. But he won't be running anything until this court hearing next Thursday.