East Hampton OK To Use Airport Funds To Fight Lawsuits, FAA Reaffirms

The FAA confirmed this week that East Hampton Town was justified in using airport revenues for legal fees in the defense of lawsuits challenging efforts by the town to reign in air traffic.

The Federal Aviation Administration has officially cleared East Hampton Town for using money in the town’s airport budget, raised primarily from fees on airport users, to pay the legal fees the town has incurred to fight legal challenges to its efforts to curtail aircraft traffic.

The town has spent more than $2 million to fight a series of lawsuits filed against it since the 2015 adoption of curfews on aircraft traffic.

All of the fees have been paid for out of the East Hampton Airport’s dedicated fund in the town budget, which is financed primarily with the fees charged to airport users for take-offs and landings, parking, refueling and other services, and the rent charged for light industrial properties rimming the airport property.

A group of aviation industry organizations filed a complaint with the FAA, seeking to block the town from using airport funds for legal fees. The federal agency said in 2018 that the town was correct to do so. The challengers pressed their objections, however, leading to this week’s reaffirmation of its initial findings.

“I think this is a significant win for the town on this issue,” Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said.