Lott Airport, Miss. Accused of Leasing Bias

Trent Lott International Airport officials are working with federal aviation authorities and the owner of Gold Coast Sky Divers to resolve a complaint of alleged discrimination.

Gold Coast Sky Divers owner Mike Igo filed an informal complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration alleging that airport officials refused without reason to renew a ground lease for a packing dome.

Igo also said airport officials evicted him in spite of his complying with the lease and limited his past leases to a year when other tenants were offered five-year leases.

Jackson County Airport Authority members denied Igo's allegations in their response to the FAA's request for information.

According to a March 30 letter from FAA officials to airport Executive Director Carol Snapp, the airport must "provide lease terms that are consistent from tenant to tenant, unless there is a compelling reason not to."

Kathleen Bergen, an FAA spokeswoman, said the letter is not an enforcement action and federal aviation officials are working with Igo and the airport to reach an agreement before a formal complaint and investigation are initiated.

The letter stated there appeared to be no grant violation regarding airport officials' request to Igo to remove trailers at the airport. The letter states that Igo's one-year lease could be considered unreasonable when five-year leases are the norm for commercial businesses, and that Igo's packing dome should have been moved to a mutually agreeable location.

Bobby Long, attorney for the airport authority, said the authority's position is that nothing has been done that requires corrective action by it.

Igo said he plans to take his complaint to state auditors.

Under federal grant assurances, public use airport owners must make the airport accessible to all types of aeronautical activities on reasonable terms.

Since Igo's eviction in February, the company has been allowed to use the airport on month-to-month agreements.

A property dispute between Igo and the Jackson County Airport Authority has landed in federal court to determine if federal jurisdiction applies.