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Judge Rules In City's Favor, Blocks Airport Commission

CLTairport_Nicola_since_1972.jpg
Nicola since 1972
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Flickr

A North Carolina judge has ruled that the Charlotte City Council may continue managing Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. The decision comes after 16 months of wrangling between city officials and state lawmakers over who will control the airport. Nevertheless, the victory is not final.

District Court Judge Robert Ervin essentially took the temporary block he put on the state-created airport commission last year and made it permanent: The commission still exists, but it has no funds, no power, and no control of the airport.

Judge Ervin found, in line with the city’s argument, that the Federal Aviation Administration decides who runs an airport. State lawmakers did not get a certificate of operation from the FAA, so their airport commission is not in charge. But, the judge leaves open the possibility of the commission taking over, if the FAA does issue a certificate.

State Senator Bob Rucho says the ruling is what he expected, and it puts the onus on the FAA. 

“The FAA has no reason not to issue that certificate,” says Rucho. “None of us are above the law, and therefore [the city], and the FAA, really need to comply with the law.”

Rucho says the state wants the commission to be in charge, and another law this year says city officials have to help put it in charge.

The FAA refused to act while the issue was in court, so today’s ruling clears one obstacle for the commission’s supporters.

The city declined to make officials available for an interview, but issued a statement saying they hope the decision marks the end of the struggle over the airport.