Saturday, April 16, 2005

The city of Joplin's four-year legal battle to recover its investment in Ozark Airlines may come to an end this week.
A hearing on whether the city's lawsuit against Ozark should be dismissed is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday, April 22, in Judge Jon Dermott's courtroom at the Jasper County Courts Building in Joplin.
The city filed the action against Ozark on March 13, 2001, five days after Ozark discontinued its service to Joplin. Bringing the company here had been the crown jewel in the city's efforts to add service to the airport.
Ozark began its flights out of Joplin on May 22, 2000, giving the city a guarantee that it would provide service here for two years. To entice Ozark to offer services in Joplin, the city gave the company $200,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds. Of that amount, $150,000 went toward an incentive for the airline to offer flights to Chicago and Dallas. The other $50,000 established an Ozark station the Joplin Airport.
Ozark's commitment to the city ended less than a year after service began. The company cited lack of money and passengers as its reasons for ending the service.
Not much has happened in the lawsuit during the past couple of years. A complicating factor was Ozark's February 2004 bankruptcy.
The money sought by the city was not the only local money that went down the drain after Ozark's decision to pull out. The Joplin Business and Industrial Development Corporation gave Ozark $100,000.

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