Fixed-base operator wants seat at table in lawsuit against airport


The company that could be hurt the most if a lawsuit against Gary/ Chicago Internatio­nal Airport succeeds wants to be heard in the case.

Lawyers for East Lake Management and B. Coleman Aviation, which runs the day-to- day business for East Lake at the airport, have filed a request to intervene in the lawsuit by the Gary Jet Center against the airport.

The Jet Center’s lawsuit in U.S. District Court claims the airport board gave East Lake and B. Coleman unfair advantages when it signed a deal last summer with East Lake to run a fixed-based operation business out of the airport. Fixed-base operators like B. Coleman and the Gary Jet Center act as service stations for airplanes at the Gary airport, providing fuel, mechanical services and more.

The FAA sets out rules that such operators, called FBOs, must follow, and the Jet Center claims the airport lets B. Coleman skirt some of these rules, such as not having to pay certain fees.

The company wants an injunction against the airport’s lease with East Lake. Although East Lake and B. Coleman are not named as defendants in the lawsuit, they say in their motion to intervene that their business could be “destroyed” by the lawsuit. Becoming intervenor­s would allow them to file their own briefs and arguments in the case.

The motion by East Lake and B. Coleman claims the Jet Center’s lawsuit seeks to suppress competitio­n. The two companies also say the Jet Center has run a monopoly until now.

“If successful, Gary Jet’s lawsuit would, for all practical purposes, preclude East Lake and B. Coleman from providing FBO services at the Gary airport,” the motion to intervene says.

Along with the motion to intervene, the two companies also filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and a response to the Jet Center’s request for an injunction.

The Jet Center has asked for a hearing on its motion for an injunction, although a federal judge has not ruled on that request yet.

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