July 21 - July 27, 2014

JWA posts June increase in utilization

Airline passenger traffic at John Wayne Airport increased in June 2014 as compared to June 2013. In June 2014, the Airport served 820,986 passengers.

Commercial aircraft operations decreased 5.0%, while Commuter aircraft operations increased 93.4% when compared to the levels recorded in June 2013.

General aviation activity, which accounted for 69.6% of the total aircraft operations during June 2014, increased 18.2% when compared to June 2013.

Almost all of the commuter aircraft flights are on Skywest Airlines Bombardier CRJ700 aircraft configured for 70 passengers or less.  Skywest operates as a partner to several major carriers such as United, US Air, American, Delta and Alaska.  The small jets fly from John Wayne Airport to destinations around the west such as San Francisco, Denver and Salt Lake City.

Work suspended on Bob Hope Airport EIR
- Burbank Leader

City officials have temporarily suspended work on a report studying the environmental impacts of constructing a new 14-gate terminal at Bob Hope Airport following unresolved differences between the city of Burbank and the airport.

The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority last week voted to defer considering making a payment of nearly $800,000 for the report, which includes the second half of the cost of the nearly $1.4 million report on the proposed terminal as well as potential development of the 58-acre parcel, known as the “B6” site, until Aug. 18.

The first payment was made when the city began preparing the report last November.

The authority will reconsider making the second payment next month, giving officials time to try to resolve their differences. The two parties have yet to reach consensus on the project’s description, as well as how many alternatives and what specific alternatives to study in the report, said airport spokesman Victor Gill.

One disagreement, according to the airport’s Executive Director Dan Feger, is whether to study potential governance changes in the report.

July 7 - July 13, 2014

LAX to spend $200 million to meet federal runway safety standards
- LA Times

In a project designed to bring Los Angeles International Airport into compliance with federal safety standards, officials will spend about $200 million to expand and refurbish runway-buffer zones..

The plan calls for enhancing safety areas at the ends and sides of all four runways serving the nation's third-busiest airport. The flat, graded expanses provide aircraft with a critical buffer should they undershoot, overrun or veer off a runway.

Federal Aviation Administration officials have been working with airports to help them meet the standards by December 2015.

Last year, airport officials proposed separating LAX's two northern runways and adding a center taxiway, but community opposition and a lawsuit threaten the project.

June 30 - July 6, 2014

Grand Jury asks county supervisors to face difficult questions.

On June 27, the Orange County Grand Jury issued a report entitled Maximizing the Benefits of John Wayne Airport to Better Serve Orange County. 

Essentially the Grand Jury asks county supervisors to consider whether the airport should serve the county, its businesses and the flying public, or the airport's neighbors in Newport Beach.  It notes that the settlement agreement which limits the utilization of the county's airport will not allow it to meet projected future demand for air travel.

The county is preparing an environmental impact report in preparation for extending the limits on the airport's utilization.  The options in the EIR were developed in confidential negotiations between county officials and Newport Beach groups.

The grand jurors looked to the future at new technology to reduce aircraft noise and ask that the airport limits be adjusted accordingly. 

Suggestions are made for lengthening the runway in ways that were reported here in 2000.

The report, which so far has had little publicity in either the Register or Daily Pilot, raised questions last discussed more than a dozen years ago during the debate over converting the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station to commercial aviation use.  At that time, county leaders and Newport Beach interests were adamant that the county needed considerably more airport capacity to sustain its growth. 

Then as now, airport neighbors objected to expanding that capacity in their back yards.

Newport Beach wary of report pushing expansion of airport operations
- LA Times
O.C. panel says caps on John Wayne Airport's operations restrict its economic impact

A recent report by the Orange County Grand Jury suggesting that John Wayne Airport's operating constraints are blunting its potential impact on the local economy is ruffling feathers in Newport Beach, where residents have long fought to keep the roar of jets over their homes to a minimum..

The report, which was released last week, comes as the county is in the midst of the environmental review phase of a process to extend the agreement that places caps on the airport's operations.

The grand jury, found that the operational limits keep the airport from capitalizing on growing demand for flights and becoming a greater contributor to a more robust county economy.

"The Settlement Agreement operating constraints significantly impair John Wayne Airport's ability to serve future demand," the report says.

The document recommends that county and airport officials consider opening up the curfews once newer models of jets are introduced that are quieter during takeoff.

Among the report's other recommendations are that officials explore changing the airport's name to John Wayne International Airport, and building a cellphone waiting lot for cars picking up passengers.

It also suggests lowering the airport's long-term parking fees to offset what it found were 3% to 24% more expensive commercial fares compared to other local airports.

Supervisor John Moorlach, whose district includes Newport Beach, said he hadn't had a chance to thoroughly review the report, but the title, "Maximizing the Benefits of John Wayne Airport to Better Serve Orange County," was disconcerting. He said he was disappointed that the grand jury hadn't spoken with him for the report.

"We're trying to find a fair balance between air carriers and the residents," he said. "And we're working diligently to have an extension to the settlement agreement that's fair to everybody."

Airport spokeswoman Courtney Wiercioch said that staff members were working with the county to weigh possible responses to go before the supervisors and that she couldn't comment on its findings.

Local airports battle for international flights - OC Register
Competition to add flights to Mexico and other popular destinations south of the border is heating up among Southern California’s regional airports.
Those smaller airports – which include John Wayne Airport, Long Beach Airport, Ontario International Airport, Palm Springs International Airport and San Bernardino International Airport – have seen some airlines cut service to marginal markets.
Mergers and liquidations have consolidated airlines and their fleets, reducing competition and pushing airfares upward. Airlines have concentrated operations in large, fortress hubs such as Los Angeles International, which has seen solid passenger gains.
Airport executives are looking to compensate by expanding service south of the border. They see tourists spending money again and immigrants whose wealth has grown in recent years.

June 23 - June 29, 2014

Grand opening held for new transportation center at Bob Hope Airport
- Burbank Leader
Intermodal transportation center hailed as a 'milestone for the region'

Officials applauded the grand opening of a new $112-million transportation center at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank on Friday, called by many a significant step toward linking multiple types of transportation with the airfield.

The 520,000-square foot facility offers three levels with more than 1,000 parking spaces and 11 car rental companies.  The center, which will open officially next month, also features a 19-foot-high covered walkway with moving sidewalks, leading to the airport terminals.

Additional upcoming improvements include a pedestrian bridge over Empire Avenue from the Metrolink station south of the airport to the second story of the transportation center. The bridge will enter the design phase this fall, said Don Sepulveda, executive officer for regional rail for Metro.

Funds from Measure R, a countywide half-cent sales tax, paired with state money and a grant from Metro will pay for the $14-million bridge project. Sepulveda said the project could take between three and four years to complete.

In addition to the bridge, a new $3.75-million Metrolink stop on the Antelope Valley line will open on San Fernando Road north of the airport in January.

The station marks the first direct rail connection for more than one million residents from northern L.A. County to the airport, said Michael Cano, transportation deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

“At this station, you’ll have 30 new trains to serve the airport and businesses around [it],” Cano said. “You’ll also be serving employees that work there.”

Is relying on JetBlue a smart bet for Long Beach Airport? -
OC Register column

Long Beach Airport and JetBlue, the airport’s biggest carrier by far, seem to be a perfect fit. Both are stylish, popular with travelers and get lots of good press.
But is there a risk in having nearly all of the airport’s eggs in JetBlue’s stylish basket? A recent decline is passenger numbers at the airport might indicate exactly that.
And the experience of some other big U.S. airports like Cincinnati, Memphis, Tenn., and Pittsburgh, Pa., may hold a lesson for the folks who run our local airfield.
Like Long Beach, each of those three airports was dominated by a single carrier. That was great when times were good. But when the airlines cut service drastically, due to mergers, economic downtown or merely a shift in strategy, each of the three airports was left with far fewer flights, and facilities that were oversized, underused and costly to maintain.
[There is a] big difference: flight limits. The number of commercial flights at Long Beach is set at just 41 big jets a day (there are additional slots for commuter planes). Each of those 41 slots is being used, 34 of them by JetBlue.
If JetBlue were to stop using any of its slots, those unused slots would become available for competitors. JetBlue obviously doesn’t want that. So the airline has masterfully managed its schedule, carefully flying each slot enough to ensure it stays safely in its fold.
But where and how the slots are used has changed over time. When JetBlue arrived in Long Beach in 2002, it focused largely on long-haul flights to the East Coast, using 150-passenger Airbus A320s. Today, the schedule is dominated by short-haul flights up and down the coast and around the West, many on 100-passenger Embraer 190 jets.
It’s pretty easy to see where the passenger decline comes from: Smaller planes carry fewer people.
Website Editor:  The change seems to put LGB in more direct competition with John Wayne Airport.

Airline passenger traffic at JWA continues to recover

Airline passenger traffic at John Wayne Airport increased in May 2014 as compared to May 2013.  In May 2014, the Airport served 800,721 passengers, an increase of 0.1% when compared to the May 2013 passenger traffic count of 799,755.

The total number of passengers served year-to-date increased by 1.7%.

Commercial aircraft operations decreased 6.6%, while Commuter aircraft operations increased 65.8% when compared to the levels recorded in May 2013.

Noise reports for the first quarter of 2014 show an increase in CNEL noise levels of less than 1 decibel during the past year at the most likely to be impacted monitoring stations in Newport Beach. 

June 16 - June 22, 2014

LAX to expand FlyAway bus service to Santa Monica and Hollywood
- LA Times

New FlyAway airport bus stops in Santa Monica and Hollywood will charge $8 each way and begin as soon as summer, the airport announced this week..

The L.A. Board of Airport Commissioners voted Monday to expand FlyAway buses that serve Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, Van Nuys, Westwood and the La Brea stop on the Expo Line. The idea is to give fliers the option of using public transit and relieve congestion at the airport.

FlyAway buses served almost 1.5 million passengers last year, according to the airport.

New FlyAway options come as L.A. grapples with bringing a rail option to LAX. An MTA report this month proposes a $1.7-billion project to bring a train and new light-rail station to the airport. The current Green Line rail option takes passengers 1-1/2 miles short of the airport and requires fliers to hop a shuttle bus to complete the trip.

Will public transit to the airport make a difference? Laura J. Nelson writes in a L.A. TImes story about the MTA report: "Despite growing pressure from the public and elected officials to close the LAX rail gap, just 1-2% of airport trips are projected to be made on Metro rail and buses by 2035, according to the Metro analysis.

"About 57% of trips will be made in cars, 33% in taxis, limos and shuttles and 8% by FlyAway bus."

June 9 - June 15, 2014

JetBlue thinking global in Long Beach
- OC Register

Long Beach Airport could start seeing JetBlue flights headed south – as in south of the U.S. border.
JetBlue Airways Corp. is in the “early stages” of discussions with Long Beach officials on plans to bring international flights to Long Beach Airport, the airline’s president said in an interview Friday.
“We are very keen to build international service out of Long Beach that would require the building of a (U.S.) Customs and Border Protection facility,” said JetBlue President Robin Hayes.
JetBlue is the biggest airline at Long Beach Airport, where it has up to 32 flights daily to cities including New York, Boston, Las Vegas and San Francisco. Hayes didn’t say which international destinations are under consideration, but said Long Beach would be a hub for flights to Mexico, Central America and South America.
Long Beach regulates the number of daily flights, a step taken by the city years ago to limit noise. Hayes wants to reallocate the existing slots so that the airline offers more international flights.
“We are not looking for more slots than what we have today,” he promised.
Hayes said the West Coast has too many “short-haul” regional flights.
“There is a lot of capacity between LAX, Orange County and Long Beach. We think opening up an international operation from Long Beach is a way to make it work,” Hayes said. “This is why we are committed to work with Long Beach and Customs and Border Protection and other agencies to get it built.”
Website Editor:  This development is happening just as John Wayne Airport is experiencing a drop in Mexican travel and the loss of one of its international carriers.  See report below.

Interjet ends Mexico flights at John Wayne
- OC Register
Service will be stopped on July 20; airport officials are seeking a replacement.

Mexican airline Interjet is leaving John Wayne Airport less than two years after launching its service to Mexico in October 2012. The airline will discontinue Orange County service on July 20, airport officials said Thursday.
Courtney Wiercioch, a John Wayne spokeswoman, said officials are actively seeking a replacement and have been engaged in “very productive conversations” with Volaris, a discount Mexican carrier.
Interjet’s once-a-day service to Mexico City and Guadalajara debuted with great fanfare at John Wayne in October 2012. It was the Mexican carrier’s first foray into Southern California and became the second airline after Southwest’s AirTran to offer Mexico service in Orange County.
The airline, which describes itself as the JetBlue of Mexico, hoped to tap into Southern California’s large and growing Hispanic travel market and ultimately attract other travel markets.
John Wayne’s international traffic, which includes one WestJet flight a day to Vancouver, B.C., initially surged after the Interjet and AirTran Mexico flights were launched.
The international passenger tally including AirTran grew from 5,600 passengers a month at the beginning of 2012 to 33,000 by December of that year. But the international travel numbers took a dramatic downturn last fall. In March, international traffic plunged to 23,500 passengers.
Thursday’s announcement came the day after Orange County tourism officials announced an expansion into Mexico, opening offices in Mexico City and Guadalajara. They cited John Wayne’s Mexico service as one of the reasons for the expansion.
Ed Fuller, chief executive of the Orange County Visitors Association, said he didn’t know about the Interjet situation, but it wouldn’t change his plans.
“We get the benefit from Los Angeles airports also,” he said. “We are trying to build the market – and it’s a big market.”

House rejects bill for Bob Hope Airport curfew
- San Diego Jewish World

The House of Representatives came within a few votes of allowing the Bob Hope Airport to adopt a curfew on an amendment to the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Act proposed by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), and Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles). The amendment was defeated by a narrow vote of 208 to 212.  This issue previously was voted on in 2011, and failed then by a vote of 178-243.

This amendment would clarify that Bob Hope Airport should be exempted from the Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA), like other similarly situated airports were at the time of its passage. In the case of the Bob Hope Airport, this was one of the first airports in the country to impose a curfew. The language would allow Burbank Airport to adopt non-discriminatory curfews applicable to operators from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The legislation would apply only to Bob Hope Airport and addresses concerns that the FAA cited in rejecting Burbank’s Part 161 application for a curfew – that it would add congestion to an already crowded airspace and it would impact the national system of airports because it would cause system wide delays.

Las Vegas courting foreign airlines for direct service
- Las Vegas Review Journal
Officials with McCarran International Airport are working to convince foreign airlines to provide direct flights from Asia to the Las Vegas facility. Officials say there is demand for the service, pointing to an uptick in flights from Asia that stop over in Seattle.
Website Editor -  See report below about direct flights from Texas to bypass LAX.

American to offer nonstop service to China, Hong Kong from Dallas-Ft. Worth
- Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

American Airlines plans to launch nonstop service from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to Shanghai and Hong Kong. "These slots can help the Chinese people connect to South America and Latin America routes very easily," said Maxine Peng, general manager of American's China division. Over the past five years, airlines at the airport have started flying to more than 20 new international destinations.

Website Editor: With newer aircraft, LAX is losing some of its former hold on trans-Pacific traffic to inland airports.

June 2 - June 8, 2014

Travel up at most SoCal Airports in April
- OC Register
International travel, specifically from Asia, boosts numbers for LAX.

If things seemed a little crowded at Los Angeles International Airport in April, it wasn’t your imagination. Passenger growth surged 8.5 percent compared to April a year ago.
John Wayne Airport, Ontario International Airport and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank also experienced year-over-year growth in April. Only Long Beach Airport, which continues to face headwinds as airlines redeploy equipment to other routes or destinations, declined.
LAX benefited from strong international demand. Traffic for passengers traveling abroad jumped 10.6 percent over April 2014. Foreign travel was up 8.7 percent for the first four months of the year.
The U.S. Commerce Department predicted in April that international travel to the U.S. would grow 3.5 percent this year to 72.2 million visitors.
LAX is expected to be a particular beneficiary because much of that increase will come from Asia. U.S. government tourism officials forecast travel from China will jump 21 percent this year; Taiwan, 15 percent; India, 12 percent and South Korea, 7 percent.
John Wayne’s overall traffic increased 2.2 percent year-over-year, despite seeing a continued slump in international travel, which fell 11.7 percent.
That decline, however, was a major improvement over March, which saw a 22.5 percent drop in travel to Mexico and Canada, the only two foreign destinations the airport serves. The government lowered its estimates for travel from Mexico and Canada this year due to underperforming growth.
Ontario, which has seen passenger traffic decline precipitously for the last seven years, eked out a 1.5 percent gain in April. Mexican low-cost air carrier Volaris instituted twice-a-week service to Guadalajara on April 10.

Burbank also grew 1.5 percent.
Long Beach fell 6.4 percent over April 2013 and is down 6.9 percent year to date.

May 26 - June 1, 2014

Orange County looks at limiting JWA utilization with new EIR alternative

Confidential negotiations between county officials and representatives from Newport Beach resulted in a "Proposed Project" to allow JWA utilization to expand to a maximum of 12.5 million annual passengers, MAP, in 2021.  However, in the course of preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Report, DEIR, the parties inserted a new 2025 Horizon Year Alternative into the study that allows for no more than 11.8 MAP through 2025. A new environmental study would be required to expand beyond that point.

The DEIR lists this new alternative as the "Envornmentally Superior Alternative." As such, it is likely to be approved by the Board of Supervisors.  It was analyzed "in the interest of minimizing environmental impacts."  In other words, it is the lowest growth alternative that the parties to the negotiations believe will pass federal approval under the Airport Noise and Capacity Act.

The currently limits on JWA allow a service level of 10.8 MAP.  According to the DEIR, the airport has a capacity of 16.9 MAP (Alternative A), the FAA Terminal Area Forecast shows traffic of 12.8 MAP (Alternative C) and the air carriers using JWA have submitted requests "deliniated" into a 15.0 MAP alternative B.

The DEIR assumes no significant changes to the airport or its access roads over the study period.

JWA continues recovery in April despite fewer commercial flights

Airline passenger traffic at John Wayne Airport increased in April 2014 as compared to April 2013. In April 2014, the Airport served 781,451 passengers, an increase of 2.2% when compared to the April 2013 passenger traffic count of 764,308.

Commercial aircraft operations decreased 5.9%, while Commuter aircraft operations increased 31.9% when compared to the levels recorded in April 2013.  The trend towards fewer noisey large flights has continued for the year-to-date.

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