Wed June 26, 2013
Charlotte Airport Bill Grounded
A measure to transfer the Charlotte airport into the hands of a regional authority has been grounded in Raleigh.
The City of Charlotte seemed all but certain to lose control of the airport until just recently.
A bill to create a Charlotte Airport Authority sailed through the State Senate.
"And we could have passed the Senate Bill within a week, we had the votes," says the bill's co-sponsor Representative William Brawley of Matthews.
But suddenly, Brawley is singing a more conciliatory tune.
The City of Charlotte has vowed to fight the airport transfer, which could mean a nasty legal battle just as US Airways - the airport's largest customer, finalizes a merger with American Airlines and re-evaluates its Charlotte hub. Sure, says Brawley, lawmakers could force the city to hand the airport over to a regional authority, but Republican House leaders urged a more cooperative approach.
"If this is a complete hostile-goes-to-war-stays-at-war situation, we're not going to end up in a good place," says Brawley.
So he has put the airport authority bill on ice – which means sending it back to the House Rules committee in legislative lingo. Now Brawley is focused on a bill to create a study committee split roughly in half between those who support creating an airport authority and those who oppose it. Whatever the committee agrees to, will be the bill lawmakers pass next year.
But first, Brawley says he needs the city of Charlotte to buy into the study committee plan: "I think it would be silly if we hold committee meetings and the people from the city of Charlotte don't come."
For its part, the Charlotte City Manager sent a letter to legislators this week inviting them to participate in the city's own review of finance, procurement and security procedures at the Charlotte airport. Concerns about those very things were what prompted the push to create an airport authority in the first place.