A latest version of a bill to transfer control of the Charlotte airport to a regional authority will be unveiled Tuesday afternoon in Raleigh.
State Representative William Brawley says he's advancing the measure after a two-month hiatus because negotiations with the city of Charlotte have stalled. Brawley says lawmakers – and an independent consultant hired by the city – have concluded a regional authority is the best way to ensure the airport's future success. But Charlotte city officials are unwilling to accept that, says Brawley.
Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee says backers of an airport authority have not made a compelling case for such a dramatic change.
"The city has never said that it would not consider an authority," insists Carlee. "All we're hearing from the other side is, 'We won't consider anything but an authority.' So it really begs the question, 'Who's really being reasonable here?' We need the other side to at least be willing to consider the prospects that what created the airport may be the best for the airport as well."
For nearly 80 years, Charlotte Douglas International has operated as a department of the city and is widely consider one of the best run airports in the country. But aviation director Jerry Orr and some local business leaders believe an independent authority would buffer the airport from political influence and allow it flexibility to operate more like a business.
A measure to create that airport authority has already passed the State Senate. The House Transportation Committee takes up a revised version today at noon.