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San Antonio reaches agreement with FAA. Will Chick-fil-A come to the airport after all?

mySA logo mySA 9/14/2020 By Joshua Fechter and Taylor Goldenstein, Staff writers
a group of people standing in front of a building: Pastor Stephen Broden of the Fair Park Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas leads a prayer to end a press conference for Save Chick-fil-A Day for religious freedom in the central court outdoor rotunda at the Texas State Capitol. [Dimitri Staszewski/San Antonio Express-News] © Hearst Newspapers

Pastor Stephen Broden of the Fair Park Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas leads a prayer to end a press conference for Save Chick-fil-A Day for religious freedom in the central court outdoor rotunda at the Texas State Capitol. [Dimitri Staszewski/San Antonio Express-News]

After excluding Chick-fil-A as a vendor at the San Antonio International Airport last year, city officials must now offer the Georgia fast food chain a spot at the airport as part of a settlement with federal officials.

San Antonio reached an informal agreement last week with the Federal Aviation Administration over its decision last year to strike Chick-fil-A from a contract with an Atlanta-based concessionaire to bring a new slate of vendors to the airport, officials said Monday.

The FAA launched a probe into the incident after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in March 2019 requested Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation Elaine Chao to look into whether the city broke federal law or Transportation Department regulations. It announced the informal resolution with the city in a letter dated Sept. 10.

Greg Brockhouse et al. standing next to a man in a suit and tie: San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, center, and City Council member Greg Brockhouse, left, mingle with the public before the start of a regular council meeting, Thursday, April 18, 2019. Brockhouse proposed revisiting a contract that excluded Chick-fil-A restaurant from operating at the San Antonio International Airport. The council voted against the move. © Jerry Lara, Staff / Staff Photographer

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, center, and City Council member Greg Brockhouse, left, mingle with the public before the start of a regular council meeting, Thursday, April 18, 2019. Brockhouse proposed revisiting a contract that excluded Chick-fil-A restaurant from operating at the San Antonio International Airport. The council voted against the move.

City officials said they “offered to resolve the FAA investigation informally.” Under the resolution, the city must offer Chick-fil-A a slot at the airport within 45 days at terms “reasonable and consistent with customary business practices.”

Whether a Chick-fil-A restaurant will wind up at the airport depends on whether the company would be interested in setting up shop there and whether City Council approves such a deal, officials said.

“The city maintains that at no point did it discriminate against Chick-fil-A,” city officials said in a statement.

Paxton applauded the agreement between the city and federal agency in a statement Monday.

“This is a win for religious liberty in Texas and I strongly commend the FAA and the City of San Antonio for reaching this resolution,” Paxton said. “To exclude a respected vendor based on religious beliefs is the opposite of tolerance and is inconsistent with the Constitution, Texas law, and Texas values.”

Joshua Fechter is a staff writer covering San Antonio government and politics. To read more from Joshua, become a subscriber. jfechter@express-news.net | Twitter: @JFreports

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