Middle Georgia Council OKs Airport Contract Extension

Council oks airport contract and particularly Middle Georgia Regional Airport - through early April under the deal, which was signed on an emergency basis last month to keep the Federal Aviation Administration from pulling Middle Georgia's operating certificate and shutting the airport to commercial flights.

The city still must come up with a long-term solution to its airport problems - namely how to continue to pass muster with federal agencies. That includes the Transportation Security Administration, which has set a March 31 deadline to come into compliance on a number of issues that haven't been discussed publicly because of security concerns.

It also includes the FAA, which was ready to recommend a shutdown at Middle Georgia Regional after a Feb. 22 inspection found some pre-existing problems uncorrected, according to a letter from the FAA.

The deal "buys us some time," City Council President Anita Ponder said.

It remains to be seen whether TBI, which manages the international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, will take over Macon airport operations long term or another private company will be brought in or a new airports director will be hired.

Councilmen Henry Ficklin and Rick Hutto voted against the TBI contract, which passed 10-2.

Ficklin said city Chief Administrative Officer Regina McDuffie didn't give the council enough information about possible hidden costs in the deal - essentially hotel and meal reimbursements for TBI employees - and Hutto said that, for the $82,250 TBI is costing the city, Macon could pay an airport director for a year.

Incidently, former airports director George Brown was to have a hearing before council today in an attempt to get his job back, but that hearing was postponed Tuesday and no new date was set. Brown was terminated in December after the FAA and TSA violations came to light.

Macon Telegraph

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