FAA Issues Determination Upholding Actions of Anchorage Airport

In a Director’s Determination issued on June 7, 2011, the FAA rejected allegations brought by RDM against Ted Stevens Anchorage International airport  that the airport had engaged in activity contrary to its federal obligations.

The RDM complaint alleged that the airport had violated certain of its grant assurances, specifically Grant Assurance 22, Economic Nondiscrimination and Grant Assurance 23, Exclusive Rights, in that the airport gave more favorable terms and/or treatment to competitors CargoPort, United Parcel Service and Federal Express in lease agreements.

Based on the FAA Director’s review of all information submitted in the proceeding, the airport was determined to have operated in compliance with the grant assurances, and the RDM complaint was dismissed.

Since the Director’s Determination is not final agency action, RDM has the right to appeal the decision to the FAA Associate Administrator for Airports within thirty days after service of the decision.

This case underscores the need for changes in the Part 16 process, which a working group of the ACI-NA Legal Affairs Committee has discussed with representatives of the FAA’s Office of Airport Compliance and Management Analysis and its Airport Legal Branch.   The complaint was filed on November 3, 2009, was amended several months later in a filing dated April 14, 2010 (received by the FAA on April 26, 2010), and required numerous extensions of time for issuance of the Director’s Determination.  Yet, in the end, the airport was absolved of any wrongdoing.  Better summary procedures that would allow for an expedited review of the allegations and determination as to whether the complaint stated a claim would have reduced unnecessary costs and time to the FAA, the airport and RDM if the FAA had such summary procedures in place in its Part 16 review process.