Charlotte Airport Battle

US Rep. Robert Pittenger tells FAA to stop airport ‘hot potato’

U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger criticized the Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday, demanding the agency make a decision on whether a new commission can run Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

“The FAA needs to stop playing bureaucratic hot potato and make a decision, one way or the other,” said Pittenger, a Republican. “Enough’s enough. It’s absolute nonsense. It’s so critical that we get this clarified and move on.”

The N.C. General Assembly set up the commission to run Charlotte Douglas 10 months ago, saying it needed to protect the airport from meddling by the city. The city immediately sued to block the commission. A judge in that case said he needs the FAA to rule before he can make any further decisions in the case.

The FAA has yet to say whether the new commission needs its own certificate to operate the airport or not. The FAA punted back to the state Thursday, saying a state judge or the N.C. attorney general must rule on the question of whether the commission is part of the city or not.

“It is our view that the governance structure must be addressed at the state and local level before FAA could determine” whether the commission can run the airport, the agency said in a statement. “The absence of an interpretation from the attorney general or the State Superior Court impedes the FAA’s ability to fulfill its fundamental obligation under federal law.”

The standoff has left future control of the airport in limbo. For now, Charlotte City Council remains in control.

Pittenger said he’s writing to the undersecretary of transportation, the FAA and congressional transportation committee members in an attempt to make the FAA decide.

“We will be relentless. We will pursue them,” he said. “They’re gonna be forced to make a decision.”