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FAA OKs Application To Privatize New Orleans Airport; Hunter Resigns

top story photo FAA has accepted the New Orleans Aviation Board's (NOAB) preliminary application to privatize Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the board.

As part of the privatization process, FAA completed its 30-day review of the preliminary application on Sept. 8 and accepted it, paving the way for the airport to begin the bidding process to select a private operator to manage the airport. After the private operator is selected, the airport will prepare a final privatization application for submittal to FAA.

The board now will issue a request for qualifications to determine a list of technically and financially qualified firms with the necessary and appropriate experience and resources to manage the airport. Once the qualified bidders are identified, the board will issue a request for bids. The bidder with the highest and best bid will be selected and included in the final application to FAA, NOAB said.

NOAB will continue discussions about privatization with the airlines, including the negotiation of a new airport-airline master lease agreement that establishes certain limits on air carrier rates and charges. It also will seek public input on privatization of the airport, as well as establish a data room for use by qualified bidders. Additionally, it will draft a private operator concession agreement/lease document.

The New Orleans Aviation Board, the City Council and the mayor must approve a concession agreement/lease with the winning bidder.

It is anticipated that the request for qualifications will be issued late in 2009 with a request for bids issued in the spring 2010. The final application should be presented to FAA in fall 2010.

Separately, Sean Hunter, director of aviation for Louis Armstrong New Orleans International, tendered his resignation effective Oct. 15, 2009, in a Sept. 15 letter to Daniel Packer, NOAB chairman. Hunter, who served in various capacities at the airport over a 14-year period, took over the top spot on June 1, 2006.

"Because of Sean, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is moving in the right direction," Packer says. "He's worked hard at establishing good working relationships with the surrounding communities like Kenner and St. Charles Parish, and his efforts have gained the confidence of the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration to improve the overall travel experience for the public."

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