The honeymoon is over: A showdown is on tap between the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport director and a restaurant that celebrated its grand opening last month. A central issue in the dispute is the restaurant’s desire to serve local clientele long after the last flight leaves the airport.
Trudy and Ricky Cross, the owners of Cross Landing Eatery & Bar, say airport Director Yvette Aehle is treating them unfairly and defaming their character. The topic is expected to be discussed at the Albany-Dougherty Aviation Commission meeting at 5 p.m. today.
The Crosses declined to provide specific information this morning, except to say to say that they disagrees with the administration’s requirement that she close the business shortly after all of the flights have come in for the day. They also said signage promoting the restaurant at the airport is another topic of contention.
On Sunday, Trudy Cross posted this statement on Facebook:
“Cross Landing Eatery & Bar Inc. at the Albany airport needs the community for an urgent push. Monday, April 19 at 5 p.m., Cross Landing asks the Albany and surrounding area’s community to stand for justice with them at the Aviation Commission board meeting.
“Cross Landing has been treated unfairly by the airport director, Yvette Aehle, in several ways. The owners have experienced defamation of character, unfair security measures, unfair treatment to the Cross Landing clientele, suffered from loss of business due to being ordered to close their doors to potential customers, etc. Additionally, the airport security measures have been tainted because the entering doors have been left unlocked.
“Cross Landing’s owners are member of the Albany and Dougherty County Business Fir Program and are law-abiding, taxpaying citizens, and the owners are in dire need of community support. Cross Landing is a small business with a great potential for success, and America’s backbone is the small business owner community. Unfair treatment to America’s backbone will not be tolerated.
“Help Cross Landing by attending the Aviation Commission board meeting, which is open to the public, and say your piece on unfair treatment and proposed discrimination to a potentially thriving business.”
Asked to the Journal to weigh in by e-mail on the Crosses’ complaints, Aehle provided the following response:
“The Crosses are asking to address the Aviation Commission tonight about their operating hours. The terminal building closes after the rental car concessionaires and the airline have done their close-out paperwork and leave the premises. Our Airport Police secure the terminal building and lock everything down. Our current airline schedule is earlier than it used to be; when I first started here, the last flight came in at 11:30 p.m. and now the last flight comes in at 9:30 p.m. every day but Saturday. On Saturday, our last flight comes in at 4:18 p.m.
“Our parking lot operator is required to be here 45 minutes after the last flight to allow the passengers to leave (per their contract). After that, they lock the parking lot down for the night. The Crosses want the ability to stay open for local clientele after the last flight arrives, but that is not what their contract stipulates. Their contract says:
“A. LESSEE shall observe and comply with the following as it relates to hours of concession operations at the Airport:
- 1. Food and beverage services shall be provided by LESSEE at such hours to ensure that the reasonable demands of the traveling public are satisfied based upon the airlines’ schedules. Adequate food and beverage services to meet public demand are to be maintained in the terminal building at least one (1) hour prior to the first aircraft departure until the last aircraft departure each day, seven (7) days per week, with adequate staff to meet public demand.”
“We would be required to have Airport Police in the building if we were allowing them to stay past their contractual hours since we have checkpoint equipment, computer equipment and telephone equipment of our other tenants that need to be protected after they leave. My officers need to have time to get their proper rest before the terminal re-opens the next morning.”
“I am not aware of any other issues that the Crosses may have with us.”
Written by Kevin Hogencamp