The airport authority released a statement pointing to the June 6th entry in the Federal Aviation Administration’s federal register. This agency oversees all of the country’s airports. This document clarifies the agency’s “authority, policy, for monitoring and approving requests for changes in the sponsorship of, or operational responsibility for, an airfield from one public agency (or both) when there is a dispute surrounding it.” The bill, sponsored by Sen. Josh Harkins (R-Flowood), would replace the Jackson airport board of five members, whose members are appointed by city officials. It would create a nine-member board that would include some state leaders who would have to have experience in the aviation industry. Gov. Phil Bryant signed this bill in May. This prompted a petition drive, and at least one federal suit from people who wanted to preserve the current structure. “The JMAA was established by statute. We have the power to amend any statute. Harkins said that the FAA does not dictate how Mississippi Today passes its laws in a telephone interview. Tony Yarber, Jackson’s Mayor, has stated that the city will go to court if necessary as recently as June 6. Opponents hope that the FAA’s recent action will favor Jackson. According to the federal register entry of the agency, “State or local legislative action or a judiciary action may seek to modify an airport’s ownership or governance, or operations. Only the FAA has authority to determine sponsor eligibility and to approve or formally change airport sponsorship. It can also approve and issue a new airport operating certificate. “The FAA has a legal obligation to ensure an airport sponsor/operator can assume all grant assurances and safety compliance and has the expertise and ability to operate the airport.” It also advises local governments and state legislatures considering legislation to change the owners of airports to work with the current sponsor or seek technical assistance from FAA. The long-running battle for control over Jackson’s airport mirrors that of Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2013, North Carolina state leaders passed legislation to transfer the city-run airport to the state. Charlotte sued the state, but the matter remains in legal limbo. The FAA determined that Charlotte would continue to have control of the airport until the matter is resolved. “We commend Dr. Rosie L.T., Jackson Municipal Airport Authority Board of Commissioners Chairman,” Pridgen stated this in a press release. “The JMAA Board of Commissioners didn’t consent to JMAA being disbanded and the formation of a new regional commissioner, as required under the FAA policy. The board strongly opposes any transfer or revocation of the airport operating certificate. Backers of the proposed change to the JMAA Board of Commissioners have objected that the bill be characterized as a takeover and argued that representatives of the tri-county regions should be appointed to the regional asset. Sen. Harkins didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of all Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think.