A lawsuit filed by a group of contract workers against Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) authority has been settled by mediation. According to the airport’s Executive Director Scott Van Laningham, the terms are not particularly pleasing to either party, but both are reasonably satisfied with the settlement’s outcome. The settlement agreement comes at a time when Arkansas’s transport officials are working furiously to improve the state’s infrastructure and attract businesses and residents with improvements to roads, municipal airports and more.
The dispute arose over alleged breach of contract on the part of XNA during a runway renovation at the airport. The plaintiffs, general contractors from The W.L. Harper Co., claimed they hadn’t been paid for work or materials, and thus, could not pay their own subcontractors. The group filed suit against the airport authority and the engineers overseeing the renovation project seeking approximately $9.5 million in damages.
The agreement reached between the two parties calls for 11 runway panels to be replaced in addition to repairing a drainage problem. The contractors will submit $3.9 million in bills to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for payment. While airport officials secured an extended warranty on the runway, they did not get a long-term maintenance agreement as part of the deal.
Completion of the project is estimated to cost XNA $592,000.
The settlement agreement was reached late last week after its terms were disclosed to XNA’s board for approval before they were put before the FAA. The agreement means that XNA’s main runway may be repaired as early as a few months from now. However, this does not mean that the runway will be ready for use at such time.
The FAA must inspect all repairs, which could take up to three additional months from the projected repair date. Officials will have to fit inspections into their schedule.
XNA officials filed an answer denying any wrongdoing and a counterclaim seeking damages for breach of contract and breach of implied warranty. The airport officials that there are roughly 40 panels with cracks, 100 that had to be patched and many that are uneven. There are about 4,000 panels in the runway.
For the duration of the project, a taxiway has been converted into a runway and is still being used.
The repairs were expected to be finished on the main runway by the end of 2013, as the contract was signed in June 2012. Its costs were projected at just over $26 million.