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San Antonio, FAA Agreement Allows Chick-fil-A at Airport: But Does Chick-fil-A Want to Return?


According to several media outlets, it appears the City of San Antonio and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have agreed to an informal settlement in which the city will offer Chick-fil-A a vendor's spot at the San Antonio International Airport.

The Dallas Morning News reports Chick-fil-A will be offered a lease at the airport after an agreement between the City of San Antonio and the FAA, the federal agency said Monday. However, the fast-food chain said it is not considering a spot at San Antonio Airport after losing its lease last year.

"We are always evaluating potential new locations in the hopes of serving existing and new customers great food with remarkable service," said a statement from Chick-fil-A, Inc. "While we are not pursuing a location in the San Antonio airport at this time, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve San Antonians in our 32 existing restaurants."

As CBN News reported in March of 2019, Councilman Roberto Trevino led the charge for a vote to remove Chick-fil-A from the concessions contract, citing its history of giving to organizations he categorized as anti-LGBTQ. Chick-fil-A's owners have donated to Christian groups like the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. And critics have accused Chick-fil-A of discriminating against the LGBTQ community by supporting groups that may hold biblical views about sexuality.

The San Antonio council's action drew fire from many conservative groups across the country. Texas Republicans responded to the move by passing the "Save Chick-fil-A" bill, a law that prohibits the government from taking "adverse action" against an individual or business based on contributions to religious organizations. The law went into effect on Sept. 1, according to the Dallas Morning News

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The FAA launched an investigation into the incident after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and religious liberty watchdog First Liberty Institute asked the US Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to look into whether the city broke federal law. The agency announced the informal resolution with the city in a letter to Paxton dated Sept. 10. 

An FAA spokesman also said the agency will continue to monitor the matter. 

On Sunday during an interview with Fox News, Paxton said Chick-Fil-A will now be offered a lease in the San Antonio Airport based on the investigation's findings that First Amendment rights, which guarantee freedom of religion, the Constitution, and the Transportation Department's guidelines, were violated.

Later that same day, the city responded in a statement to KSAT-TV:

"The FAA has not ordered the City of San Antonio to have Chick-Fil-A at its airport. The City itself offered to resolve the FAA investigation informally following Chick-Fil-A's publicly stated change-of-position on its charitable giving policy. The City maintains that at no point did it discriminate against Chick-Fil-A. Any placement of Chick-Fil-A at the San Antonio Airport is ultimately contingent on Chick-Fil-A's continued interest and approval by the City Council," the statement said. 

"Attorney General Paxton's inaccurate statements on this issue are not surprising given that neither he nor the State of Texas have been involved in the conversations between the City and the FAA. Unfortunately, and ironically, AG Paxton's false declaration of victory significantly jeopardizes the potential for a mutually beneficial and amicable resolution," the statement concluded. 

According to the FAA's letter, the city must offer Chick-fil-A a slot at the airport within 45 days at terms "reasonable and consistent with customary business practices."

In an email to CBN News on Monday, Keisha Russell, an attorney with First Liberty Institute said the San Antonio City Council denied that it agreed to make this offer.

"We are grateful to the FAA for taking our complaint against San Antonio seriously, and for ensuring that the city does not engage in anti-religious bigotry when awarding leases in its airport," she said in a statement. "But we are shocked that the City Council is now lying to the public about the deal it reached with the FAA to allow a Chick-fil-A franchise in the airport. Despite what some of its members might think, the San Antonio City Council is not above the Constitution and federal law."

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