Edmonton airport battle headed to court

The future of Edmonton's City Centre Airport could hang on a lawsuit launched by Airco Aircraft Charters

The future of Edmonton's City Centre Airport could hang on a lawsuit launched by Airco Aircraft Charters.

Airco, a commercial air carrier located at the airport, is seeking an injunction that would prevent any part of the airport from being closed until 2052.

City council made the controversial decision last July 2009 to close the airport in phases, with one of the airport's two runways scheduled to close in August. The city plans to redevelop the land for residential and commercial use.

Airco is located on the east side of the airport, where the first runway is scheduled to close.

However, Airco managing director Mary Anne Stanway said she's confident she has a strong legal case to prevent that from happening.

"The basic one is the contract between ourselves and Edmonton Airports," she said.

"We have a lease agreement we signed in 1998 for 25 years with an option to renew for another 25 years and they would have to break that lease, essentially, if they wanted us to leave the area."

Stanway said the battle over City Centre Airport is not unlike others being fought across North America.

"There are continual fights amongst other municipalities with their airports as well," she said.

"Airports do take up a lot of land and, of course, they have the flight paths, so there are restrictions that an airport creates. It does have its challenges. That's why we have legislation that's there to protect airports because they're vulnerable to a city council that would look at it and say, 'Well, you know, that land could be prime development land.'"

Airco is one of more than 40 aviation-related businesses at City Centre Airport.

The Edmonton Flying Club launched a similar suit in January, saying its lease does not have an early termination clause.

The civil action is expected to be heard at the end of April.