Airport Law

Stites & Harbison has represented airports and their boards for more than 45 years. We have literally written the book on airport law in Kentucky, and are acquiring a national reputation from our involvement in one of the nation's largest and most complex airport construction and relocation projects.

  • For three generations, our firm has served as General Counsel to the Regional Airport Authority of Louisville and Jefferson County.
  • The firm has been General Counsel to the Lexington-Fayette (Kentucky) Urban County Airport Board since 1999.
  • Stites & Harbison has served as counsel for real estate and procurement matters to the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority since 2002.
  • Recently, we counseled the Atlanta Department of Aviation regarding a construction law matter for the fifth parallel runway at Hartsfield International.
  • The firm has acted as Special Counsel to three other Kentucky airport boards (in Owensboro, Middlesboro, and Bowling Green) on special matters ranging from runway extensions to FBO disputes to “through-the-fence” arrangements.
  • Stites & Harbison has served as Special Counsel to the Columbus, Ohio, airport authority.

Since 1988, our firm has acted as Lead Counsel to the Regional Airport Authority of Louisville and Jefferson County in connection with the Louisville Airport Improvement Program, one of the largest airport expansion/renovation programs in the United States. We are also providing counsel to the Lexington-Fayette (Kentucky) Urban County Airport Board regarding possible construction of runway safety areas at both ends of its major commercial runway. Both representations have involved the intense public scrutiny and rigorous administrative accountability that large commercial airports have come to expect.

Stites & Harbison is intimately familiar with local, state and federal regulations regarding the construction and operation of airports, and with other statutes as they relate to the activities of an airport board.

At the federal level, our firm's airport lawyers have had numerous opportunities to work with the Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982, the Aviation Safety and Capacity Expansion Act of 1990 and the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990.

Our firm has counseled clients extensively concerning most, if not all, major areas of state, local and federal regulations, including:

  • Bidding and procurement, including construction, professional services and concessions
  • Rates and charges
  • Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970
  • Exclusive rights at airports
  • Through-the-fence operations
  • Minimum standards
  • Self-fueling rights
  • Airport security
  • Lobbying
  • Airport Improvement Program
  • Part 150 Noise Program
  • Environmental
  • Finance, including bonds, grants, passenger facility charges and revenue Diversion Issues
  • Corporate governance, including Open Meeting and Open Records, DBE programs, employee benefits and employment matters
  • Relations with rental car companies and taxi cab companies
  • Airport zoning

The breadth and depth of the firm's airport law experience goes back nearly 50 years. It’s also a family tradition: Kennedy Helm Jr. wrote the book on airport law in Kentucky (Kentucky Airport Law and Management, Frankfort: Kentucky Aviation Association, 1989, 2 vols.), and Kennedy Helm III carried that legacy forward as a frequent author and lecturer on airport law, including several appearances as a speaker at FAA regional and national conferences in Detroit, Orlando, Atlanta, New Orleans, and other locales.

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