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Airport Commission Attorney: City's Arguments 'Utterly Baseless'

Julie Rose

An attorney for backers of a regional commission to run Charlotte Douglas International Airport says the city's legal arguments against a transfer are "utterly baseless," because there is no transfer. Rather, Richard Vinroot says airport would remain the city's property and the new commission to operate it would be an agency of the city.

"The commission is under the city's charter - that means the city owns it," says Vinroot, referring to Senate Bill 380. "There's no doubt in that bill, the city owns everything. They have simply a new management structure of this agency under the city government."

The city of Charlotte say creation of the commission sidesteps the Federal Aviation Administration's authority to issue airport operating permits. Vinroot and former aviation director Jerry Orr say any permit changes necessary would be merely "administrative" and allow a "seamless" transition to an airport commission. 

The city also argues that lawmakers violated the state constitution in passing the legislation as a local bill that did not require the governor's signature. But Vinroot has provided evidence to the court that dozens of laws related to airports around the state have been passed in a similar manner over the years. 

A court hearing is scheduled for Thursday morning to determine if a regional commission led by Jerry Orr should be allowed to take over airport operations during the many months this court battle is likely to play out.