Minority Aviation Company Closing

Opa Locka flightline says county ran them out of business, files suit

The owners and employees of one of the country's only minority-owned aviation companies were feeling pretty glum yesterday as they found out the plane company would be grounded for good.

"Very sad day, this will be my last day," said Dane Huggins, whose time at Opa Locka Flightline is virtually over.

"I have a 2-year-old daughter, she was born premature and now I have to go back to square one," the Florida Memorial University grad said.

Huggins is just one of the Opa Locka Flightline workers packing up after what the company's owners said were five profitable years in the growing market servicing private aircraft.

"We broke into a industry here that was not pretty affluent in this area with African-Americans," said Flightline owner Ed Brown.

Brown and partner Tony Robinson said they ran a top-flight operation but the county unfairly ran them out by picking Adler Aquisitions -- what they call a politically well connected firm -- to take over the lucrative airport ramp space they were promised five years ago and even had a lease to obtain.

"It's more than unfair treatment, this is just downright robbery of the first kind," Brown said.

Opa Locka signed a lease with the county in 2005 which it said guaranteed more space, but when Adler came in after the previous developer was removed, Brown said all that changed.

In its lawsuit filed against the county, Opa Locka Flightline claims it was discriminated against and its civil rights violated, that the county with foul intent delayed executing the lease that would have given Opa Locka more ramp space and worked to bump them from the airport.

"The disparity conditions, we have to do something, there's something virtually wrong and I think Opa Locka Flightline is just the tip of the iceberg," Brown said.

The county aviation department claimed Flightline didn't pay its rent but Brown disputed that and produced checks claiming he paid every month. The county said it did everything possible to prevent this from happening.

Adler was still formulating its response.

Flightline says the county and ultimately taxpayers now owe it hundreds of millions of dollars because it's closing.

Contact Us