Evidence continues to mount that Raleigh Durham International Airport remains in the thick of the battle for an expansion project of NetJets.

Officials from the airline told Florida economic development officials last week that the Orlando market was off the consideration list.

“Those involved say NetJets, which is a subsidiary of [Warren] Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has now narrowed its list to Columbus and Raleigh, N.C.,” The Orlando Sentinel reported on Saturday.

North Carolina officials remain mum about the project. In fact, the Orlando newspaper said one reason NetJets eliminated Florida was the first reports about its possible move in the Sentinel in early November.

In an interview last Thursday in Raleigh, State Commerce Secretary Jim Fain declined comment on NetJets.

The Columbus Dispatch reported last week that NetJets officials were visiting that city for face-to-face meetings. The newspaper said Ohio had put together an incentives package in excess of $57 million to keep the airline’s operations hub. Its corporate headquarters is located in New Jersey.

The airline is on record as saying it is considering an expansion effort. The airline recently renewed a new contract with its union based in Ohio. Union officials have not returned phone calls from WRAL.com about the project. State economic officials also have remained tight-lipped.

The airline provides fractional ownership of executive aircraft to jet setters and business executives along with virtually on-demand flight service. It is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which is a Warren Buffett operation.

NetJets currently bases its main flight operations in Columbus, Ohio and employs some 2,000 pilots. Its corporate headquarters is based in New Jersey.

NetJets has been negotiating with economic development and airport executives from several different states for the best deal it can get to help underwrite the cost of the expansion.

The Orlando paper quoted Florida economic officials as saying that Orlando “had been eliminated.”

"We’re certainly disappointed," said a representative for Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership devoted to Florida’s statewide economic development.

A representative for Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty said a reason Orlando was dropped was “workforce development” potential.

A further consideration in that regard is NetJets’ interest in working with a university, the Orlando newspaper added. It specifically mentioned Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.

“Several people familiar with the negotiations said NetJets executives also told local officials that they were dissatisfied with the quality of the area’s public schools,” the Sentinel added.