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Covington considers taking over airport
AEA didn't break contract, but council looks at early termination
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The Covington City Council is considering terminating its contract with Atlanta East Aviation, the airport’s fixed-based operator, not because of any breach of contract, but because it wants to pursue a more modern operation.

At the Sept. 21 council meeting, the council voted to terminate the contact, conditional on a contract review by City Attorney Ed Crudup, based on the fact that AEA had violated the contract by allowing its insurance coverage to lapse for more than 10 working days.

After reviewing the contract, Crudup determined that the contract was not violated, because the contract had a stipulation that the bank for the FBO, South Trust Bank, had 30 working days to restore insurance. Since the insurance was reinstated within the 30 days, the contract had not been breached.

However, Mayor Kim Carter asked the council to consider early termination of the contract because the FBO model was outdated. She said she and Councilman John Howard has traveled across the state studying airports, and she said that in most cases either the city itself, or some sort of airport or development authority runs the airport.

If the contract is terminated early, the city would have to pay AEA a certain amount of money in compensation, but Crudup and AEA’s attorney Craig Oakes, with the firm Bryant and Oakes, disagreed on the wording of the contract in terms of how much compensation AEA would be owed.

According to the contract $527,200 would be owed, paid over a certain schedule, but Oakes said AEA has made many improvements to the airport that are not included in that number. At one point Councilman Mike Whatley made a motion for early termination, which was seconded by Councilwoman Ocie Franklin, but in the end the council decided to let the attorneys meet in order to work out exactly what the compensation would be.

After the meeting, the council could still vote for early termination, or it could continue to contract with AEA to run the airport.