The commercial airport at the former March Air Force Base
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Go east, new airport! Forget El Toro! Let's set our sights on March Air Force Base
OC Register, October 15, 1999
by Charles H. Rivkin
March International Airport'' would be a ``win-win-win'' alternative solution for north and south Orange County, Newport Beach and Riverside County. March Inland Port is currently an operational commercial cargo airport, sharing March Air Force Base facilities with the Air Force Reserve, located 45 minutes from MCAS El Toro by car. It's 23 miles in a direct line through the Cleveland National Forest from El Toro.
This could be a 10-minute ride by bullet train or 20 minutes by car and could be part of the Millennium Plan. If Orange County's cargo business were to start using March Inland Port, it would put March on the map as our regional cargo airport.
Caltrans is currently studying new state highway routes connecting Orange County to Riverside County through the Cleveland National Forest.
Here are some compelling reasons to consider March Inland Port as Orange County's future regional international airport, as published in the March Joint Powers Authority promotional flier:
--This 6,700-acre airfield has the longest runways in California -- 13,300 feet long, 300 feet wide and are ready to safely handle the largest aircraft, fully loaded. El Toro consists of 4,700 acres.
--March has non-congested air traffic patterns. Unlike MCAS El Toro, it is not in any other airport's flight patterns, which means, ``Right in, Right Out'' savings for air carriers.
--An additional 160 acres is available for off-site development.
--The site has minimum conflicts with surrounding land uses and has been approved for air passenger aircraft use.
--The airport enjoys strong community and political support for expansion to a passenger international airport.
--Present access includes four interchanges from the I-215 freeway and a rail line through the base.
--March Inland Port shares facilities with the Air Force Reserve, which means cost effectiveness. The Department of Defense pays the cost to operate the control tower and maintains the runways, grounds and landing systems.
--Landing fees are $0.60 per 1,000 pounds compared to LAX's $2 per 1,000 pounds.
--March shares the military bulk-fuel storage facility and offers carriers a ``fuel flowage fee'' of $0.03 per gallon.
--March Inland Port is now open for business for air cargo flights.
Until now, those who are in favor of an international airport at El Toro and are concerned about the potential increased use of John Wayne Airport are unaware they have an alternate airport location. ``March International Airport'' provides this alternative.
Having lived in Newport Beach, and experienced the daily invasive 7 a.m. wake-up call by the first flights taking off from John Wayne Airport, it would be unbearable, were it to occur around the clock, as it would be a with an international airport at El Toro.
Another concern that Newport Beach residents have to contend with is the black, sticky residue of jet fuel that covers everything left open to the sky. If Newport Beach residents have their dream of an airport at El Toro, resulting in the closure of John Wayne, the pilots will probably use a westerly takeoff over Irvine, then toward the ocean, using the newly opened air space over Newport Beach and Corona Del Mar, for international flights. Also, a basic requirement of an international airport is that it be open for business 24 hours a day to receive international flights. So when we hear talk about limitation of hours for an airport at El Toro, let's be real!
The March Joint Powers Authority is eager to expand its operations to include passenger service. This effort could be assured if Orange County cities and businesses were committed to support a ``March International Airport,'' which could be funded by Riverside County bonds and, in turn, can be paid for by an airport tax and toll fees. In addition, new routes to March Inland Port would cut down on drive time compared to LAX, The Millennium Plan could be implemented, John Wayne Airport could lighten its air traffic to private planes and local commercial flights and the current threat of 24-hour aircraft noise and air pollution would be eliminated.
Or additional county property tax revenue could be generated if John Wayne Airport is closed. This would require some negotiations with The Irvine Co., to whom the property would revert, in order for the county to benefit from the parking structures and other infrastructures. The airfield could then be developed into a variety of sports facilities, such as a new football stadium, a horse racing track or an Indianapolis 500-type race-car track.
Why March Air Force Base, instead of the other closed military airports?
Because it is the largest and closest and they have been soliciting Orange
County's participation. Time is running out. So if no one else has a better
alternative to an international Airport at El Toro, now is the time for
Orange County officials to work with The March JPA to solve our planned
invasive international airport problem. For information regarding air cargo,
contact March Joint Powers Authority (JPA) located in Building 3408 on
March Air Force Base.