Chapel Hill Airport Gets Reprieve

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The immediate future of Horace Williams Airport in Chapel Hill, N.C. appears secure after the state's General Assembly passed amendments to the current budget requiring the airport to stay open until a suitable, accessible replacement can be built, something not likely to happen soon. The airport is owned by the University of North Carolina, which wanted to close it to save money and expand the university. But a groundswell of opposition has apparently saved it, at least for the time being. Meanwhile, in California, politics of a different sort is marring the redevelopment of a choice piece of real estate at Van Nuys Airport. At least two of eight companies that submitted bids to Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) for the chance to build a jet center on 7.3 acres have filed formal complaints with the Los Angeles Department of Airports alleging political interference in the awarding of the contract. The winner was David Murdock, the billionaire owner of the Dole Food Company and a hefty ($101,000) political contributor to Mayor Jim Hahn. "While we were hopeful that LAWA might have changed its ways, we feel that political influence still characterizes contract awards by the Los Angeles Department of Airports," said Alexander Furlotti, managing officer of PBQ Aviation, in a statement to the LA Times.