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Old Posted Apr 3, 2009, 2:35 PM
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Red face Southern California Aviation News

JetBlue says it may stop Long Beach operations
The airline, citing lack of progress on airport improvements, says it may move flights to LAX.

By Peter Pae and Dan Weikel
LA Times
April 2, 2009


"JetBlue Airways, citing frustration with the lack of facility improvements at Long Beach Airport, said Wednesday that it may cease operations at the airport where it began its West Coast expansion and is now the busiest carrier.

No specific plan to leave Long Beach has been proposed, but a JetBlue spokeswoman said the airline could consider, among other options, scaling back flights or shifting them to other airports in the region, including Los Angeles International Airport.

New York-based JetBlue is slated to launch new transcontinental service at LAX in June.

The airline has a loyal following at Long Beach Airport, from which 24 to 29 JetBlue flights depart each day bound for major cities that include New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco and Las Vegas. The airport is one of five major hubs for the airline and is considered its West Coast "anchor."

"It is regrettable, and that's not our choice," said Jenny Dervin, spokeswoman for the carrier. "But we have to face the facts that we are in temporary trailers, and that's not acceptable. It doesn't serve our customers, and it doesn't serve our brand. We want to go where we are wanted."

Dervin confirmed comments made by JetBlue Chief Executive Dave Barger and first reported by the aviation blog Crankyflier.com. In an interview with the blog, Barger said that operating at Long Beach "has been a huge frustration for us" and criticized the pace of improvements to the airport's terminal and parking structure.

"They need to make good on their commitment to improve the airport experience," he said. "People might have to go to LAX to use us, because we're actually wanted there."

Dervin denied that Barger's comments were a negotiating ploy to prod Long Beach officials into addressing some of his grievances. "It is not a threat. It's simply an expression of frustration," she said.

A Long Beach Airport official said she was surprised by the comments and that the airport had not received any indication from the airline that it would leave.

JetBlue has 29 of the 41 commercial slots the airport can grant to airlines under the city's noise ordinance.

Rather than cutting service, airport spokeswoman Sharon Diggs-Jackson said, the discount airline is adding another flight in May. Long Beach remains a profitable market for JetBlue, she said.

Long Beach Airport handles about 3 million passengers a year, a pace that has held up despite the recession. The airport has drawn passengers who say they want to avoid traffic congestion and long security lines that they might encounter at LAX.

JetBlue does not have any long-term commitments to Long Beach because the airport has a month-to-month arrangement with its tenants for terminal and office space. Flights are granted to airlines in perpetuity, but there is no requirement that they provide service for a specific time period, Diggs-Jackson said.

Airport officials said plans to replace the existing temporary gates were being reevaluated by the city and airport tenants because of the economic challenges faced by the airline industry. Plans include construction of new waiting areas and gates as well as more concessions. A new parking structure is on schedule, but the project will likely be scaled back, Diggs-Jackson said.

JetBlue and the airport have also been at odds over the use of commuter airline slots. Last year, JetBlue raised the possibility of using its Embraer 190 for some of the 25 commuter airline slots available at the airport. The twin-engine jet can hold 90 passengers.

But although the Embraer aircraft is quieter than some commuter jets, Diggs-Jackson said the city's noise ordinance prohibits the use of the plane for commuter flights because it is too heavy. She said JetBlue had made no formal request for the commuter slots."
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Palmdale City Council moves to develop shuttered airport

Palmdale City Council moves to develop shuttered airport

The panel OKs creation of an agency to restore passenger service at Palmdale Regional. United canceled flights to San Francisco in December. Los Angeles World Airports shut the facility in February.

By Dan Weikel
LA Times
April 3, 2009


"Asserting more control over the effort to attract airline service to the Antelope Valley, the Palmdale City Council has authorized the creation of an aviation department and commission to oversee development of the now-closed Palmdale Regional Airport.

The council's action Wednesday night will greatly reduce the role played by Los Angeles World Airports, which shuttered the commercial airport and removed its staff in February after decades of frustration trying to provide passenger service.

"This is a necessary step for us to take," said Palmdale Mayor James Ledford. "We are now going to make the decisions that affect our airport rather than going to an entity that is 60 miles away."

Eight airlines have come and gone from the facility since the early 1970s -- the latest being United, which canceled its four daily flights to San Francisco on Dec. 6 after almost 18 months of operation. The carrier's planes were less than a third full, well below the anticipated level of 50%.

Los Angeles World Airports officials contend that it might take years, if not decades, before the travel market is strong enough in the Antelope Valley to support an airline -- a position that Palmdale officials dispute. They say that airfares were too high, the destinations too few and that Los Angeles officials failed to develop a large untapped market of travelers in the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys.

The City Council voted unanimously to set up the Palmdale Airport Division, which will be headed by City Manager Steve Williams. Council members will serve as commissioners to set policy for the new department.

Los Angeles World Airports has had primary responsibility for developing Palmdale Regional Airport, but the severe downturn in the airline industry has prompted its commission to concentrate the department's efforts on Los Angeles International Airport, where a multibillion-dollar modernization is planned.

LAX has lost about 8 million annual passengers since 2000, a decline that has been aggravated by the current recession.

The agency's other airports, Ontario International and Van Nuys, a general aviation facility, also face serious economic challenges caused by plunging passenger volumes and flight operations.

Ledford said the city now plans to seek re-certification of Palmdale as a commercial airport from the Federal Aviation Administration and to begin searching for an air carrier to resume passenger service.

Los Angeles World Airports surrendered the certification to the FAA earlier this year.

The mayor said the city also is making progress toward assuming U.S. Air Force leases that have been held by Los Angeles World Airports for decades.

Palmdale's parking lot, terminal and some of its ramp areas sit on land owned by Air Force Plant 42, an aerospace facility.

City officials said the Air Force has notified Los Angeles that it wants to terminate its leases with the airport agency, a process that can take 24 months.

"Getting an airline is inevitable," Ledford said.

"We've just got to find the right carriers and the right destinations at the right price. We are serious about controlling our own destiny."
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Old Posted Apr 3, 2009, 2:56 PM
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Lindbergh Field expansion backed (SD Union-Tribune)

Lindbergh Field expansion backed

Terminal 2 project to start this year

By Steve Schmidt
San Diego Union-Tribune
2:00 a.m. April 3, 2009


"DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO — Eager to provide more breathing room for airlines and passengers, Lindbergh Field officials yesterday backed plans to expand one of the airfield's main terminals.

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority wants to add 10 boarding gates and revamp the roadway system outside Terminal 2, on the airport's west side.

The authority's board voted to launch the $25 million design phase of the estimated $877 million expansion. In July, it is expected to vote on the construction phase. Agency officials hope to start the work by late summer.

The project would include an improved security checkpoint at Terminal 2, more shops and a Lindbergh first – a “reflection room” for those seeking refuge from the clamor.

The terminal expansion has been on the Lindbergh to-do list for several years. It is unrelated to Destination Lindbergh, a more recent initiative that proposes more sweeping changes to the airport, including placement of passenger services north of the runway and construction of a transit hub there.

Steve Cornell, the authority director spearheading the expansion, said it will help San Diego International Airport and fuel the regional economy.

He said the project, at its peak, will employ as many as 1,000 people. Completion is expected around late 2012. The agency would pay for the work through passenger and airline fees and with federal grants.

The single-runway airport handled 18.1 million passengers last year. Officials expect that figure to level off over the next year or two because of the battered economy, then climb to as high as 22 million by 2020.

Lindbergh Field has 41 gates, spread over its two main terminals. The 10 additional gates would be built on the west side of Terminal 2, on land set aside years ago for gate expansion.

The airport also plans to split arriving and departing traffic outside the terminal, which accommodates Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and about a dozen other commercial air carriers.

An elevated road would be built for departing passengers. It would include a drop-off area, skycap services and airline kiosks for those needing boarding passes.

Those picking up passengers would still be routed to the existing roadway on the terminal doorstep.

The board recently decided to hold off on a decision to build a parking garage near the terminal. City officials and others say the structure would add to congestion on Harbor Drive.

The expanded terminal would include room for additional restaurants and shops, along with the reflection room.

“It's an amenity that's offered at other airports and would certainly enhance customer service,” airport spokeswoman Diana Lucero said.

The authority board yesterday also agreed to spend about $2.7 million on public artwork within the expanded terminal.

An overnight parking lot for aircraft also will be developed near the building."
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Old Posted Apr 24, 2009, 3:42 PM
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JetBlue says it plans to stay in Long Beach (Long Beach Press-Telegram)

JetBlue says it plans to stay in Long Beach
New airport director meets with key JetBlue officials in New York
Posted: 04/23/2009 07:42:11 PM PDT

Long Beach Press-Telegram

"JetBlue Airways Corp. on Thursday said it plans to remain at Long Beach Airport -- two days after the airport's director met with JetBlue officials in New York and following weeks of speculation about whether the airline would stay.

In a conference call with analysts, JetBlue Chief Executive officer Dave Barger responded to reports earlier this month that JetBlue might pull out of Long Beach Airport because of the lack of progress on long-awaited improvements there. Barger said he is "disappointed" with the current facilities, but he is encouraged by recent talks with airport officials.

Barger also said that the the company will "aggressively defend" itself against growing competition on routes and pricing from rivals after posting a first-quarter profit that topped Wall Street expectations.

He said JetBlue plans to remain at the airport, where it is the largest airline, even when it begins service to nearby Los Angeles International in June. JetBlue also serves Los Angeles-area customers at Burbank Airport.

"Burbank and Long Beach and LAX can all work well together - That's how we are currently looking at it," Barger said.

High-level meeting

Long Beach Airport's new director, Mario Rodriguez, flew to New York this week and met with Barger and his top executives Tuesday, Rodriguez said Thursday.

Rodriguez told the Press-Telegram that the group discussed improvements to passenger waiting areas, security checkpoints, restrooms and concession areas. The key discussion was how to fund the projects, he said. "The gist of the meeting was to come up with a business solution that benefits both parties," said Rodriguez.

City officials have estimated that between $50 million and $65 million in bonds would be needed to expand the terminal from the current 56,320 square feet to 89,995 square feet. Another $65 million in bonds are needed to build a new parking garage.

Rodriguez has cautioned against increasing enplaned passenger fees at the airport to finance bonds, particularly during a recession.

He said Thursday that a general airport revenue bond could be financed through increased revenue that he expects from concessions and parking. Fees at parking lots have already been increased to finance the new parking structure construction.

Rodriguez said repairs to common areas of the terminal also can be funded with existing passenger facility charges.

To improve exclusive-use facilities for JetBlue, the airport's other four passenger airlines or freight carrier UPS, each company would finance the necessary bonds through a lease agreement, Rodriguez said.

"For anything that they need for exclusive use, they will sign a long-term lease for that space to back a bond," he said.

These methods should avoid significant increases to enplaned passenger costs, he said.

"We believe that with the PFC (passenger facility charges), concessions and enhanced revenues, we will be covering all debt service," Rodriguez said. "There may be a slight increase in the enplaned passenger cost."

The improvements also will be done in phases, not all at once, Rodriguez said.

"We're trying to run the airport like a business," Rodriguez said. "We're trying to make sure that the improvements that we do will be financially feasible, and most importantly that the airport stays as a viable business entity into the future."

Rodriguez said he plans to present options and a timeline for the airport projects to the City Council in May.

Furthermore, Rodriguez said he plans to negotiate long-term leases with all of the airlines, which are now on month-to-month leases. That process will take about a year, he said.

On Monday, an appeal of a lawsuit by the Long Beach Parent-Teacher Association against the city over the airport's environmental and noise impacts will go to court. The lawsuit has blocked progress on the airport improvements, but if a second ruling comes down in the city's favor, the airport improvements shouldn't face any more legal obstacles.

New JetBlue flights

Aiming directly at the growing presence of Southwest at major eastern airports, JetBlue also said Thursday it will launch four daily nonstop flights from Boston's Logan Airport to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) on Sept. 9.

Dallas-based Southwest last week announced plans to start flying that route and expects to begin service on Oct. 1.

Forest Hills, N.Y.-based JetBlue will offer fares starting at $39 - $10 cheaper than Southwest's lowest fare.

JetBlue has launched aggressive sales on various routes - especially transcontinental trips - as competition from Southwest and Virgin America heats up.

JetBlue also plans to start service from New York to Barbados, adding to a large number of flights from its home base at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to the Caribbean. Pending government approval, the Barbados flights will begin on Oct. 1.

The Forest Hills, N.Y.-based company said earlier Thursday it earned $12 million, or 5 cents per share, compared with a loss of $10 million, or 5 cents per share a year earlier.

JetBlue and low-cost carrier AirTran, which also posted a quarterly profit, were bright spots in the sector as other U.S. carriers posted losses.

It was the first time JetBlue made a profit in the first three months of the year since 2005, mostly due to lower fuel costs. The first-quarter is typically a seasonally weak period for airlines.

Adjusted to exclude a one-time charge, JetBlue's net income for the quarter would have been $20 million, or 8 cents per share.

Revenue fell 3 percent to $793 million, from $816 million in the first three months of 2008.

JetBlue ended the first quarter with about $634 million in cash and cash equivalents.

Shares rose 6 cents to $5.64 in midday trading."

Press-Telegram reporter Paul Eakins and AP Transportation Writer Samantha Bomkamp contributed to this report.
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Old Posted Apr 30, 2009, 2:31 PM
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Virgin America begins flying between O.C. and San Francisco

The upstart carrier begins the service nine days before Southwest is set to launch its own low-fare flights on the route.

Los Angeles Times
By Peter Pae
8:48 PM PDT, April 29, 2009

"Virgin America, the upstart carrier founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, began flying between Orange County's John Wayne Airport and San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday for as little as $49 one way.

The launch of the low-fare service began with a glitzy party on the airport tarmac where celebrities, such as rapper MC Hammer and the cast of reality show "The Real Housewives of Orange County," welcomed passengers on the first flight from San Francisco.

The reception, with rock music and bikini-clad models, was vintage Branson, who got off the plane wearing a swimsuit and clutching a bodyboard.

Since its launch nearly two years ago, the airline has shaken up the industry by offering low fares and unusual onboard amenities such as mood lighting and wireless Internet.

At Los Angeles International Airport, Virgin America has helped drive fares lower. And analysts anticipate a similar reaction at John Wayne Airport, which traditionally has had higher fares than other airports in the region because of a cap on the number of flights that can operate there.

The start of Virgin America's service at John Wayne came just nine days before Southwest is expected to start its San Francisco service from Orange County. Southwest is offering $44 one-way fares when bought in advance, or $5 less than Virgin America.

"Finally Orange County's got a really good, first-class airline for everybody to use," Branson said before he left to do some afternoon kite surfing in Laguna Beach."
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Old Posted Apr 30, 2009, 4:34 PM
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Airport expansion may be $100 million cheaper (OC Register)

Airport expansion may be $100 million cheaper
Weak construction sector has contractors offering cut-rate bids.



"Skyrocketing costs for expanding John Wayne Airport are plummeting back to earth because of a weak construction sector, potentially saving more than $100 million, officials report.

The top source of savings comes from a contract to enlarge and modernize the terminal. Originally estimated to cost $178 million, the project attracted a low bid of less than $100 million.

"When they read the numbers to me over the phone … I had a difficult time believing it," said Alan Murphy, airport director.

Jenny Wedge, airport spokeswoman, echoed that disbelief: "When we got these bids in, we were just like, 'Wow, what does this mean for us?'"

The answer: Airport projects, including a maintenance warehouse and commuter-flight holding rooms, that once faced delays will be built sooner, and officials will not need to finance as much of the nine-figure bill for expanding Orange County's aviation hub, avoiding millions in debt-service payments.

Work has been under way for more than two years, and future milestones include a new parking structure in 2010 and an enlarged terminal in 2012. Other areas where substantial savings are expected include:

•Construction of a new parking structure, to replace one that was recently demolished, was first estimated to cost $50.9 million. A contract hasn't been awarded, but the low bid is $34 million.

•New passenger boarding bridges were first projected to cost $15 million; a contract was awarded for $8.3 million.

•Parking structure demolition was originally estimated at $10 million; a contract was inked for $6.5 million.

So-called change orders for unexpected construction costs can add to bills even after a contract is awarded. That said, the shrinking price tags are in sharp contrast to signs that not long ago suggested a ballooning budget for the effort to add a new terminal wing, extra parking and additional gates.

For example, a newly built overnight aircraft parking lot will end up costing at least $38 million, up from an expected $23 million.

The overall expansion budget leaped in summer 2007 to $570 million, up from $435 million, a development officials attributed to burgeoning raw material costs and a building boom that greatly strained the supply of contractors.

With the economy reeling, construction firms are scrambling for work, and slashing their rates to find it. Prices are clearly in flux, so the overall price tag is virtually impossible to predict in the short-term, Wedge said.

Beyond seesawing construction costs, sagging air travel has cut into revenues from parking and a $4.50-per-passenger fee charged to each traveler at John Wayne; in the past three years, airport income has been virtually flat.

The cost of the terminal project is the source of some uncertainty. The low bid came in first at $89 million, but the contractor apparently transposed its numbers, and actually is offering to build for $98 million, Wedge said.

That remains the low bid, but the next-closest competitor – offering to build for $101 million – wants the low bidder disqualified, since the change occurred after all bids were unsealed.

There is "a lot of conversation that still needs to happen to figure out what is fair and how to handle this," Wedge said, adding that officials hope to resolve the matter by mid-July.

The airport operates as a self-sustaining entity, so the savings will not free up money elsewhere in county government. The cash could, though, boost investment in amenities to improve the experience at an airport officials say has one of the highest annual passenger-per-boarding-gate ratios of major airports in the United States.

"We're really excited about being able to move forward on the program because we think there's huge benefits to the public," Murphy said."
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Old Posted Jun 8, 2009, 2:34 PM
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Airport Authority Votes to Proceed With San Diego Airport Terminal Expansion

Airport Authority Votes to Proceed With San Diego Airport Terminal Expansion

Siciliano, Stephen
BNA's Transportation Watch

"LOS ANGELES: The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority voted June 4 to continue with implementation of an approximately $338 million terminal expansion at San Diego International Airport.

The unanimous vote occurred following a presentation and ensuing public comment on whether to include a project labor agreement to govern the use of construction labor on the project.

We don't need a vote deciding on a PLA or not, said Vice Chairman of the Board Bob Watkins. We went down this path to understand what a PLA is and no action is necessary other than to direct staff to get shovels ready for the July 8 groundbreaking.

The terminal development program is part of a larger airport master plan for expansion at San Diego International Airport, the estimated cost for which is $800 million.

Push to Improve Passenger Flow
According the authority's Web site, the master plan's terminal development phase will improve passenger flow through security checkpoints and will include other facility upgrades.

Enhancements include 10 new jet gates at terminal two, increased overnight aircraft parking, an elevated roadway to separate arrival and departure traffic, and airplane taxiway improvements.

The authority's fiscal year 2009 adopted budget provides a breakdown of sources for the capital improvements:
*$8.3 million from the federal Airport Improvement Program;
*$111 million from passenger facility charges;
*$192 million in revenue bond sales;
*$13.5 million worth of airport cash;
*$11.1 million in other airport funds; and
*$1 million from third party financing arrangements.

Tarmac projects will account for $118 million of the total cost, terminal improvements some $97 million, landsides projects, including the elevated road, will use $10 million, administrative and other projects will run about $52 million, with another $61 million in interim rounding out the total expenditure figure provide above."
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Old Posted Jun 17, 2009, 6:01 PM
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Bonds approved for airport improvements (OC Register)

Bonds approved for airport improvements
John Wayne will borrow up to $250 million to finance airport construction.

The Orange County Register


SANTA ANA – John Wayne Airport renovations got a $250-million-boost today when Orange County supervisors unanimously approved issuing bonds to finance the latest stage of expansion efforts.

Up to $250 million will help pay for some $460 million in airport improvements, including construction of a new terminal and a parking structure. The work is needed to meet growing passenger volumes, which have been increasing since 2003 when the airport and city of Newport Beach agreed to raise the cap on the number of flights and travelers passing through the airport. Airport officials say John Wayne has the highest annual ratio of passengers per boarding gate among major airports nationwide.

"The number of passengers we're serving is a million more than the building was built for originally," airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge said. "Over time the systems are deteriorating."

The airport plans to borrow less money than executives thought two years ago, when skyrocketing construction costs drove up the estimated price tag to about $100 million more than they're anticipating now. Additionally, recent credit rating upgrades mean the cost to finance the project will be less than anticipated. And a change in tax law thanks to the federal stimulus also will reduce bond expenses.

"This is the best time to be embarking on the project," Supervisor John Moorlach said. "It will provide needed relief for the increasing amount of passengers at each gate."

Still, overall costs have been volatile with construction material and labor costs fluctuating wildly, making the expansion price hard to predict. Estimates for the airport improvements started at $435 million in the summer of 2007, then shot up to $570 million. Now it hovers at nearly $460 million, as construction firms slash their rates to find work amid the ailing economy.

Lagging air travel also plays a roll in the uncertainty by cutting into revenue from parking and a $4.50-per-passenger fee charged to each traveler at John Wayne. Those fees will be used to pay debt service and fund airport projects. The project is also being paid for with airport revenue and grants.

Newport Beach resident Charles Griffin said the county should save the money instead of paying for unnecessary airport improvements.

"I oppose and think it's very obnoxious and inappropriate and imprudent to go into debt to build a Taj Mahal-type of terminal to replace a very workable terminal," Griffin said.

Instead, Griffin suggested the county should buy up land to build an airport outside the county, or to construct a rail way that could ship airline passengers to out-of-town airports. Moorlach asked airport staff to explore those suggestions.

Work has been under way for more than two years on the airport's comprehensive improvement plans, which should cost about $543 million and are being built in four stages over five years. The first two stages of construction were completed in 2009, including the extension of an overnight parking area and demolishing a parking structure to make room for the new terminal.

The third stage, which is being partially financed by the bonds, includes a 282,000 square-foot terminal with six new gates scheduled for completion in 2011, and a 2,000-car parking structure that will be completed by 2010. Once the new terminal opens, that parking structure could be expanded based on demand. Commuter waiting areas also will be added. Meanwhile, two existing terminals are expected to be renovated by mid-2015.
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Expansion Begins at Lindbergh Field

Expansion Begins at Lindbergh Field

By Katie Orr
Wednesday, July 8, 2009


SAN DIEGO — Ground was broken at Lindbergh Field on an expansion of Terminal 2 Wednesday. KPBS reporter Katie Orr says the airport’s being expanded now that it’s definitely staying near downtown San Diego.

The first priority of the Airport Authority is to build a large parking lot where airplanes can park overnight. Then work will begin on 10 new departure gates and building a double-decker road that will separate departing and arriving passengers. Airport Board Member Bruce Boland says the renovations are needed now that it’s certain the airport won’t be relocated.

“We are here at Lindbergh Field. This is our airport as far into the future as any of us sitting in this room can see. And we are taking the charge and moving forward to improve the airport to the very best we can make it,” he says.

Boland says the renovations to Terminal 2 will work with the Destination Lindbergh plan which sets long term goals for the airport. The $1 billion expansion is expected to be complete in 2013. It does not include a parking garage on San Diego Bay which was strongly opposed by the city of San Diego.
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LAX bonds will finance upgrades (LA Times)

LAX bonds will finance upgrades

Weikel, Dan
Los Angeles Times
August 18, 2009

Airport commissioners Monday approved the sale of more than $1.6 billion in
bonds this year to help pay for long-awaited improvements to Los Angeles
International Airport and to refinance previous bonds for terminal projects.

About $700 million of the bond issue will finance construction of a new
cross-field taxiway, airfield intersections and firefighting facilities. The
proceeds also will help pay for improvements to the Tom Bradley International
Terminal, new escalators and elevators throughout the airport, a new baggage
system for Terminal 3, and the purchase of property near LAX.

The balance of $925 million will be used to refinance bonds that have been
sold to pay for other airport improvements. Sales of the bonds to investors will
begin in late October and continue throughout the year.

Airport officials say the bond issuance will increase the airport's
outstanding debt by as much as $2 billion. Annual debt payments are expected to
increase by about $50 million to between $120 million and $130 million per year.

The payments will be covered by fees, rents and charges paid by airlines and
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San Bernardino International's terminal almost ready; airlines are not

San Bernardino International's terminal almost ready; airlines are not

August 17, 2009
The Press-Enterprise (Riverside)


Counters and kiosks are in place, ready to sell tickets and check in travelers at San Bernardino International Airport's newly refurbished passenger terminal.

High-definition TV monitors display place-holder arrivals and departures, escalators and decorative water sculptures are in motion, and a high-tech security room monitors for suspicious activity. A booming recorded voice tells visitors not to leave bags unattended.

One thing is missing from this picture: The airport has yet to land a commercial airline to bring revenue-generating passenger service to the terminal.

Fifteen years after the 1994 closing of Norton Air Force Base, local authorities are close -- yet in many ways still very far away -- from turning the abandoned military airfield into a productive enterprise that generates jobs and tax revenues.

Non-aviation development has generated hundreds of jobs and brought big-named companies to the project. Still, it produces nowhere near the 10,000 direct jobs of the airbase's heyday, not to mention the ripple impact those positions once generated.

More than $180 million has been spent on aviation-related base renovations -- $80 million of which has been spent or committed to the nearly completed passenger terminal, whose cost has more than doubled from original estimates. Final work on the passenger terminal, tarmac and parking lots will be completed by year's end.

Officials for the past year have said a seriously interested but undisclosed domestic passenger carrier could announce new service for the terminal at any time. But in a still brutal economy for the airline industry, even if a carrier arrives this year, airport authorities and aviation economists say the local facility could face unknown millions more in investment costs to make commercial air service viable.

Authorities say they've boosted the San Bernardino airport's prospects considerably with the recent hiring of New Jersey-based AvPorts to oversee local airport operations. The firm, once part of Pan American Airlines, has an 80-year track record that includes managing seven airports, mostly on the East Coast, as well as one of the larger passenger terminals at Newark International.

"This is a crucial launch point for the airport," said Pat Morris, San Bernardino's mayor and head of a joint-powers authority that oversees the air base refurbishing, referring to the new hire.

Starting Sept. 1, AvPorts' top priority is to use its expertise and industry contacts to bring in the mix of passenger carriers, private aircraft, cargo and support services that the local airport must have to become economically viable.

"Our experience is that people who want to come to an airport want to be able to deal with one entity," said AvPorts Chief Operating Officer John Harden, referring to companies the airport will be looking to attract. "We work well that way, as a one-stop resource."


Construction continues at San Bernardino International Airport. Pictured is the departures area of the new terminal.

For years, San Bernardino airport development has come in fits and starts. As the economy nosedived, authorities have increasingly found themselves offering financial assistance to keep crucial aircraft support businesses afloat.

Experts say it may take even more international lobbying and enhanced financial incentives to get airlines to operate locally, at a time when carriers have been cutting flights drastically at airports, including Ontario International.

"The economy we're operating in is much different now than it was just two years ago," said Scot Spencer, who has been overseeing improvements to the main terminal since 2007 and who leases and subleases space in the airport's service hangars. "For us lately it's been for every two steps forward, it's maybe one-and-a-half steps back."

In some ways, the Norton renovation has been a tale of two projects.

On the outskirts of the airfield, more than 3,000 jobs and millions in new tax revenues have been generated by offices and distribution centers operated by companies such as Stater Bros., Mattel, Kohl's and Pep Boys in projects master-planned by Texas-based Hillwood Development.

That revenue, combined with federal transportation and development grants, has fueled the bulk of work done so far on the airport.

"If it weren't for those industrial projects, I don't think we would have what we have now on the airport side," said Don Rogers, interim executive director of the Inland Valley Development Agency, which oversees projects tied to the Norton refurbishing.


Getting and maintaining crucial aviation-related businesses to locate at the airport has been a much tougher sell. As happened with other former military bases, including Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, the developer of industrial properties on the site turned down offers by authorities to develop the airfield portion.
"It really comes down to the ability to make a profit on a development," said Keith Metzler, director of the Victorville economic development agency, which has helped bring new business to the former George Air Force Base. At 85,000 acres, that property is the largest of the California military bases that closed in the 1990s.

In the early days, that airport had to offer incentives such as rent discounts to lure support companies, and even purchased equipment that some businesses could share. Metzler said those incentives haven't been needed during this decade, as the airport's hangars have filled with more than 30 tenants, including global aircraft makers, parts suppliers and maintenance businesses.

The Victorville airport to date has spent more than $250 million on improvements, including the addition of four new hangars in the past three years. However, Metzler notes the airport is devoted largely to storage and maintenance of aircraft -- which thrives during up and down economies -- rather than passenger service.


To improve passenger service and other on-site business prospects, the San Bernardino airport may need to do more financial pump-priming.

Michael Burrows, assistant director of the Inland development agency, said officials are in the "very preliminary" stages of figuring out how to financially assist businesses on the airport grounds and lure new ones. That might include setting up a loan or matching-funds program with the help of government grants.

Local officials may need to go well beyond previously discussed start-up incentives, such as reduced landing fees for carriers.

"To get someone to add flights, you would probably have to pay them a lot of money to do that - maybe $2 million a year," said Darryl Jenkins, a former airline business professor at George Mason University near Fairfax, Va., who is now an airline consultant. "You would probably have to find a way to guarantee them no losses for at least a couple of years."

Alan Bender, an airline business expert and professor with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., said San Bernardino may have to offer airlines a way to share the risk of setting up new service. For instance, some smaller airports have set up ticket banks, through which businesses guarantee they will buy a fixed number of tickets per year to ensure the airline makes a set level of revenue.

San Bernardino may need to emphasize leisure rather than business travel, and it may become a good tourist alternative to the Palm Springs airport when the economy improves -- for instance, as an arrival point for mountain ski resort visitors. Major carriers likely won't be looking to add new business services in the current economy.

"There's a large number of people for whom San Bernardino will be the most convenient place to fly out," Bender said of leisure travelers.
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Takeoff rules could cut noise (LA Times)

The House of Representatives had a hearing last month on the development and use of these RNAV/RNP approaches.

Takeoff rules could cut noise

Barboza, Tony
Los Angeles Times

Aviation officials are adopting a new satellite-based departure procedure for
planes flying out of John Wayne Airport that could save fuel, cut emissions and reduce noise around Upper Newport Bay in Newport Beach.

Under current rules, aircraft taking off from John Wayne can start turning
around right when they reach the shoreline, but starting next month, the new navigation system will direct planes to fly 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile out over the ocean before turning, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.

John Wayne is the latest of more than 300 airports nationwide that the FAA
has switched over to satellite navigation systems designed for more consistent flight paths.
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Old Posted Sep 5, 2009, 5:56 PM
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I took a few pictures of the stylish new San Bernardino International Airport a few days ago, but I need to go back for more when the new executive terminal with its hangar-integrated office space is completed this Fall.

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Irvine backs direct, nonstop bus service to LAX (OC Register)

Irvine backs direct, nonstop bus service to LAX
Officials say the service will provide affordable link to Orange County's busiest transit hub.



IRVINE – City leaders have given the green light to a new direct bus link between Los Angeles International Airport and the Irvine train station, hoping to provide Orange County travelers an alternative to freeway traffic congestion and airport parking woes.

The City Council tonight unanimously approved an agreement with LAX operators to expand their FlyAway direct bus service program into Irvine, setting the stage for what they hope will be a convenient and affordable travel option.

The FlyAway service is expected to provide 12 nonstop trips per day to and from LAX. One way fares will range from $20 to $25 per trip, according to city staff reports.

Irvine leaders are hoping to get the bus service up and running before Thanksgiving, in order to meet the needs of travelers during peak season.

The service would bolster the Irvine train station's reputation as a key transit hub. Served by Amtrak, Metrolink and the Orange County Transportation Authority, the Irvine station is the busiest transit center in Orange County.

"I think it will be a one-stop traveling solution," Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang said.

The FlyAway service is run by Los Angeles World Airports, a city department tasked with overseeing LAX, along with Van Nuys and Ontario airports. The service includes three lines, connecting LAX to Van Nuys, Westwood and Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

"It's saving them gas and cash," Spokeswoman Treva Miller said of the FlyAway passengers. "People get to relax on the buses and once they get here they drop you off on the curb by your terminal."

The master plan for LAX calls for six more FlyAway sites to be established by 2015, Miller said, as officials look at ways to reduce congestion around the airport.

The drive to connect Irvine and LAX dates back more than a decade, when local leaders embroiled in the fight over a proposed El Toro airport were seeking an alternative to connect Orange County residents with existing transit options.

"Many of us felt we didn't have a shortage of airport capacity, we had a deficiency in ground transportation around Southern California," Irvine Councilman Larry Agran said. "If we could better move people to existing airport facilities … we would be better off, and El Toro airport would be seen as unneeded and unwanted."

Several commuters at the Irvine train station today said the FlyAway bus system seems to address many of the headaches that lead them to avoid LAX.

"For me, to go to LAX is a trip in itself," said Jeff Parks, a Laguna Beach resident. "Parking is horrible and the drive is just ridiculous."

The commuters said they prefer to fly out of John Wayne Airport whenever possible, but noted that some flights are available only out of LAX, or are cheaper from Los Angeles.

"You have the stress of getting ready, but if there is something here, you can plan accordingly," said Arnell Alambra, an Irvine resident.

Travelers using the FlyAway buses would be able to leave their cars for up to 30 days in a parking lot adjacent to the train stations parking structure. Parking in the structure itself is restrained by a 72 hour limit.

"It would be much more practical if you had a way to get to LAX without the parking issues," said Matt Davidson, a Lake Forest resident.

The agreement also calls for Los Angeles World Airport to bankroll nearly $7,000 worth of work at the Irvine train station, including sidewalk repairs and new signage.

Airport leaders are required to sign off on the plan, with a vote expected later this month.
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Long Beach OKs soundproofing for airport neighbors' homes (LA Times)

Long Beach OKs soundproofing for airport neighbors' homes

Long Beach OKs soundproofing for airport neighbors' homes
Officials hope to reduce noise levels to an average of 45 decibels, allowing for bursts of sound throughout the day.

Faturechi, Robert
Los Angeles Times
October 8, 2009

First comes the faraway rumble, then the roar and before long the whole house is rattling.

But for dozens of people who live near the Long Beach Airport, the ear-numbing flyovers that have become a daily reality are about to get a little less agonizing. The City Council adopted a plan late Tuesday to soundproof houses most affected by aircraft noise.

An increase in flights -- particularly louder military planes -- in recent years prompted airport officials to offer soundproofing for neighboring homes. About two dozen homeowners along the southern end of the main flight path will be eligible for acoustic windows, attic insulation and other soundproofing measures, airport spokeswoman Sharon Diggs-Jackson said.

The homes are located within parts of the area east of Clark Avenue and immediately north and south of Willow Street.

Many outside the zone are angry.

Robert Guzman, 30, lives just north of the airport's main flight path and says he has to cover his newborn son's ears 30 to 40 times a day as planes blast over his home. Guzman, a Bixby Knolls resident, painted his walls in January, only to see them begin to crack days later.

The fractures are 3 inches wide now, he said, and growing with every rumbling flyover.

"It vibrates my whole house -- the ceiling, the walls, everything," Guzman said. "I don't know what to do anymore."

Airport officials seek to limit the noise level inside soundproofed homes to 45 decibels, but that target is a daily average that still allows for bursts of sound throughout the day.

"If you get an F-18 jet flying right over your house, it's going to be loud. I don't care what kind of windows you have," Diggs-Jackson said.

This week's vote paves the way for funding from the Federal Aviation Administration for the estimated $28-million project, Diggs-Jackson said.
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The Bell Curve: Airport’s change for the worse (Daily Pilot)

What a ridiculous column. The 5-county LA metro region has 18.4 million residents (http://www.dof.ca.gov/research/demog...orts_Jul08.xls) but because of the opposition from these people living in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, SNA can't serve more than 10.3 million passengers per year. According to the 'Go Local' study prepared by Landrum & Brown (http://www.newportbeachca.gov/Module...ocumentid=2128 -- slide 8), the Orange County residents who use SNA most frequently are the people who live in the zip codes directly next to the airport. Long Beach already has a very restrictive cap of 41 flights per day so the alternative is that LAX continues to shoulder an overwhelmingly disproportionate share of the region's demand for air travel. This is neither fair to the residents who live next to LAX nor convenient for Orange County residents who must make a one-hour drive to LAX, creating more highway congestion and air pollution.

The Bell Curve: Airport’s change for the worse

Daily Pilot


I’m one of those “foolish” people, so identified by Pilot reader Mike Aguilar, because we’re mad as hell that John Wayne Airport has encroached on our lives in steadily growing increments. And say so. And will continue to say so when the next increment, presently underway, will be dropped on us.

Aguilar is a self-styled grin-and-bear-it man who “chose to live here” and share our airport problems without complaining — a decision that might just have been made easier by the fact that he works at the airport. Which allows him to tell us that if we can’t “take the noise and pollution, just move.”

So he’s very unhappy and a little contemptuous of those of us who can’t match his willpower to tough it out. Or subscribe to his line of reasoning, which goes roughly like this: When we bought our homes under the traffic pattern of what — for many of us — was called Orange County Airport, we should have known it was going to be turned into a commercial behemoth that would threaten our sleep and patio parties and property values and state of mind. Therefore, we should have shopped for real estate in Garden Grove or Santa Ana, where aircraft noise wasn’t a problem to our sensitivities.

What we saw in those early days was a private landing strip for aviation pioneer Eddie Martin’s flying school. It was turned into a regional airport shortly after a terminal to accommodate 400,000 passengers annually was built in 1967. The airport became publicly owned through a land swap between the Irvine Co. and the county. That was the beginning of our watching the cute little puppy in our closet grow into a wolf at our front door — a wolf that might be looking to morph into an elephant if we keep feeding him — which happens to be an imminent possibility.

If you doubt that, take the Irvine Avenue entrance into John Wayne and look to your left. The construction you see was priced out at $652 million and has been carefully presented to Newport-Mesa residents as an “Improvement Program,” not, God forbid, an expansion. This at a time when our economy is in the toilet and the number of passengers at JWA has dropped from 10 million to 9 million in the past year.

This new construction grew out of an amendment to a 1985 settlement agreement between Orange County and Newport Beach that defined parameters for airport facilities and operations. The terms of the 2003 amendment, in the words of Airport Director Alan Murphy “extend environmental protection for the surrounding community and provide for additional passenger facilities and operation.”

That sounds to me like an invitation to new guests to join the daily party that convenes every five minutes or so over my backyard at airplane rush hour. When and if that happens, it’ll be too late to decide whether this $652-million beauty was a boondoggle in a fragile economy, a device to ensure the expansion of JWA, or just bad timing for cosmetic touches.

While we wait, there is vitally important business to be taken care of here on Earth. Between 2011 and 2015, the JWA agreement raises the passenger cap from 10.3 million to 10.8 million. If a new settlement hasn’t been negotiated with the county by then, the sky is both literally and figuratively the limit.

The Airport Working Group and AirFair will continue to do yeoman service on our behalf, but they badly need citizen support. And that, oddly enough, has been hard to generate. Thousands of residents drive past the new construction daily without projecting what it will be like here if the passenger cap takes flight and the new Terminal C opens its arms to them.

To prevent that, all of us under the JWA flight path need to embrace AirFair’s stated goal to “stop expansion of JWA while raising the level of discourse about a permanent curfew and flight and passenger caps.
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As the chief operating officer of Million Air, I wanted to share with you a few ways in which our perceptions of the San Bernardino International Airport differ from those recently expressed in the letter "Field of dreams."

Contrary to what the writer states in his letter dated Aug. 14, when we arrived at the San Bernardino International Airport we did not find six extremely large hangars "ready" for maintenance work, aircraft fueling capabilities and a usable passenger terminal. We found large maintenance hangers in disrepair (some had holes in the roof), inadequate electronic capability and insufficient or no fire suppression capabilities. One hangar even had no doors and could not be secured as required by FAA security regulations. In short, some hangars were unusable for any commercially viable purpose.

The passenger terminal, even though renovated to meet minimum seismic requirements and to be used for charter and commuter flights, was rendered completely obsolete by the enhanced security requirements brought about by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and lacked many of the systems required by the scheduled airline service providers. Fuel storage and dispensing facilities were also inadequate for scheduled airline service.

Today, these issues have been addressed; the passenger terminal has been updated to meet all current security requirements and provide all the systems which scheduled commercial airlines require, a new fuel farm is ready for service, hangar doors have been installed, a new FBO is nearing completion, concrete repairs (as required by FAA) are on schedule for completion, and aircraft maintenance is active and growing.

There can be no doubt that the vision and leadership of Mayor Morris, the entire San Bernardino airport board and the airport's management staff have been instrumental in this amazing accomplishment. It was this leadership and vision, certainly not the conditions of the (then existing) facilities, that convinced Million Air that San Bernardino was going to be a success story and a place where Million Air was proud to contribute to that success.

In 2007 we agreed, in cooperation with the San Bernardino International Airport Authority and SBD Properties, LLC, a local developer, to establish what we believe will become the premier corporate and private aviation facility on the West Coast. Today, Million Air San Bernardino is nearing completion at the corner of Leland Norton Way and Third street at the San Bernardino International Airport.

As for the letter writer's "field of dreams," if he is around the corner of Third street and Leland Norton Way he won't have any trouble finding it. It will be the place where all the airplanes are landing and taking off and hundreds of local residents are going to work.

Terry R. Cross is chief operating officer of Million Air, headquartered in Houston.
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RIVERSIDE - A lack of discount airfares has caused travelers to shun Ontario International Airport, leaving its terminals half-used.

Although airline passenger levels have declined nationwide because of the economic morass, the biggest percentage decline among major airports in the nation has been at Ontario, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.

The airport, 40 miles east of the Los Angeles Civic Center, is viewed by regional planners as vital to relieving pressure at overused airport terminals at Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. But the dropping passenger usage may make the inland airport less viable as a reliever airport, officials said.

The Ontario Airport is owned by the City of Los Angeles through its L.A. World Airports department. Los Angeles has promised residents of LAX-area cities to encourage spreading air traffic out among other Southern California airports, as a result of a legal settlement over objections to LAX expansion plans.

Officials expect 4.83 million passengers to use Ontario by the end of 2009, the first time in 21 years that passenger usage will be below the 5 million level, the newspaper reported. The Ontario terminals were built a decade ago to handle 10 million people per year. In 2010, the airport expects a slight increase to 4.9 million -- a figure that may be optimistic, Michael Boyd, an airline consultant, told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

"They'd be very lucky to get that," said Boyd, who forecasts that airlines nationwide will cut back their seats flown by another 4 or 5 percent in 2010.

Travelers are seeking cheaper fares that are not often offered at Ontario, said Jack Keady, an aviation consultant in Playa Del Rey. He told the Press-Enterprise that Los Angeles World Airlines could use some of its marketing muscle to encourage growth at Ontario, such as requiring those airlines seeking new gates at LAX to also add flights at Ontario as a part of the bargain.

Ontario is one of the most expensive airports in Southern California to do business, costing airlines about $14.50 per passenger, based on fees and rents levied. By comparison, as of March, Palm Springs International Airport costs $4.07 per passenger and Long Beach Airport costs $5.34, The Press-Enterprise reported.

Officials have raised landing fees and terminal rental rates for the current fiscal year, adjusting for lost revenue from airlines that departed the airport entirely and those that cut flights.

"This is not a good time be raising fees, unless you want to go bankrupt," Darryl Jenkins, an aviation consultant, told the Press-Enterprise. "You're just going to send people scrambling elsewhere."

Recently, San Bernardino International Airport approved a plan to offer up to $2.5 million worth of incentives to the first four airlines that bring their brand new terminal its first scheduled passenger flights. The new airport has also offered free landing fees for the first five years the airlines do business in San Bernardino.

San Bernardino County Supervisor Gary Ovitt, whose district includes Ontario Airport, told the Press-Enterprise he has met unofficially with Ontario airport staff asking how they could make it more affordable for airlines to land there and reappraise their landing fees.

Maria Tesoro-Fermin, a spokesperson for Ontario International Airport, told the newspaper that the L.A. airports department has hired a consultant to promote Ontario Airport as a gateway to Disneyland.
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2009, 2:10 PM
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PragmaticIdealist-- you might be interested in this report "Passenger Air Service Development Techniques" from TRB's Airport Cooperative Research Program. Here is the link: http://trb.org/Main/Blurbs/Passenger...omer&utm_term=

"TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Report 18; Passenger Air Service Development Techniques explores the underlying competitive challenges that small communities face in retaining or enhancing their commercial air service, examines how communities can address those challenges, and describes the basic components and tools of an air service development program."
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