For an additional two years, Covington & Burling LLP will continue to work as an agent of federal lobbying for Scottsdale City Council as elected leaders look to mitigate impacts created by Sky Harbor International Airport flight paths.
Scottsdale City Council, in an early February public hearing, opted to amend an existing contract with Covington & Burling --- an international limited liability lobbying and legal firm --- for an additional two years.
The original contract expired Dec. 30, 2019, but on Feb. 4 City Council approved an amendment emboldened through resolution No. 11675.
A few weeks later, Scottsdale City Council, at its Tuesday, Feb. 18 meeting at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd., adopted resolution No. 11728 authorizing the city to file a petition for review of Federal Aviation Administration action related to flight routes from Sky Harbor.
The issue dates back to 2014 when the FAA implemented a new satellite GPS system known as “NextGen” for guiding arriving and departing aircraft to and from Phoenix’s international airport.
Where air traffic had formerly been dispersed over predominately unpopulated areas many miles away, arriving and departing planes were now compressed and moved into narrow and undeviating “highways” directly over densely populated communities, which include portions of Scottsdale airspace.
“The City of Scottsdale entered into contract No. 2018-102... with Covington on May 30, 2018 to provide information, a list of options and recommendations for action the city could consider regarding the existing flight path corridors that are impacting Scottsdale,” said Brad Lundahl, Scottsdale government relations director, in his Feb. 4 report to City Council.
“The project, considered phase one, was completed on June 12, 2018 and it provided several options for actions the city could consider.”
Mr. Lundahl points out in July 2018 Covington & Burling provided alternate routes to the FAA, which is identified as phase 2 of the federal lobbying pursuit. In January, the FAA issued a statement declining to take any further action in considering Scottsdale’s proposed alternative routes.
The Feb. 18 resolution seeks to review the FAA’s dissenting decision.
“Approval of this contract extension will allow the city to continue to work with Covington to further implement phase two or recommendations, including but not limited to political engagement and legal or legislative remedies,” he explained to City Council of addressing issues attached to NextGen flight paths.
“The total cost of lobbying services to be provided under this contract will not exceed $40,000 annually without prior notice to council.”
The contract with Covington & Burling is now through Dec. 31, 2021.