August 18 - August 24, 2014

Travelers decline at Bob Hope Airport
- Burbank Leader

The number of passengers at Bob Hope Airport dipped by almost 1% in June compared to a year ago, according to the latest report.

That followed a 3.43% decrease in passengers in May.

For the first six months of this year, the airport has handled roughly 1.89 million passengers, a 1.45% decrease from about 1.91 million passengers during the same time period last year.

Passenger tallies were on the rise at other airports in the region in June, except Long Beach Airport, which reported a 2.8% decline.

The number of passengers at Los Angeles International Airport rose by 6.7%, while there was a 5.8% hike at Ontario International Airport and a 1.2% uptick at John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

August 11 - August 17, 2014

Freeing Ontario Airport won't be cheap, fast or easy
- OC Register
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s willingness to transfer control of Ontario International Airport from the city of L.A. to a local airport authority gave Inland residents reason to cheer.

The airport has lost nearly 50 percent of its passenger volume since 2007 under the oversight of Los Angeles World Airports, a division of Los Angeles city government.

Ontario officials believe that with local control, they can begin to revive the airport through cost-cutting, airline incentives, better marketing and other measures.

But even with Garcetti backing local-control, transferring the airport from L.A. to the fledgling Ontario International Airport Authority is no simple matter.

He will have to convince the L.A. City Council, and perhaps the L.A. Board of Airport Commissioners, to go along. Even with talks under way, reaching an agreement is likely to take time and consummate diplomacy. L.A. officials need to be assured the city will be made whole on its investment.

Even before Garcetti went public with his support for local control of ONT, Los Angeles and Ontario officials were trying to negotiate an agreement on how such a transfer could take place.

At the same time, Ontario’s lawsuit against L.A. for alleged mismanagement and failure to attract more airlines and flights to Ontario continues in Riverside County Superior Court. More . . .

August 4 - August 10, 2014

John Wayne Airport can do more, grand jury finds -
OC Register
The Orange County Board of Supervisors would usually have 90 days, which would be late September in this case, to either agree or disagree with grand jury's recommendations. The county executive officer, however, has requested a six-month extension, which would give them until the end of the year.  (See yesterday's website article below)

John Wayne Airport’s flights and parking are expensive, and if it wasn’t hampered by decades-old [regulatory] structures, it could make the county’s economy move and work faster.

The grand jury recommended extending one runway to accommodate heavier planes, lowering long-term parking fees, instituting policies to woo more business and leisure travelers, and building a special lot for motorists waiting to pick up passengers.

Supervisor John Moorloch, whose district includes neighboring Newport Beach, said he found the grand jury recommendations baffling. “It doesn’t reflect what the community is pursuing,” he said. “Increasing use of Ontario Airport has been the focus, and that’s where it should be.”

Website Editor:  We agreed with utilizing Ontario airport first when Newport Beach pushed for a commercial airport at the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station and we still support greater utilization of Ontario. However, the inland airport is not readily accessible from much of Orange County and little has been done to improve the access.

The report comes at a critical juncture. Late next month, the Orange County Board of Supervisors is expected to approve an environmental study of a proposed amendment to the landmark Settlement Agreement that has capped flights and passenger levels since 1985. The amendment, considered crucial to those who live under the flight path, also reinforces nighttime flight curfews at the regional airport.

The report took aim at the pending Settlement Agreement in several areas. In one, they referenced an airfare study that concluded, “Orange County passengers can expect little or no airfare relief in the future if the Settlement Agreement continues to limit the number of flights and passengers in the face of growing demand for air travel.”

The grand jury didn’t explain why its report coincided with the pending Settlement Agreement. The panel also doesn’t, as a rule, make itself available for interviews.

Melinda Seely, who heads a group working to curb airport expansion, was interviewed. The Newport Beach resident said she was surprised and puzzled by the grand jury’s recommendations.  “We have been working so hard to contain the airport at its current levels,” said Seely, the president of AirFair. When she read the report, she said, “it was like what planet are they on?”

County puts off dealing with Grand Jury recommendations for John Wayne Airport

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

On July 7, Supervisor John Moorlach, whose district includes Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, posted this message on his Internet blog:

"Regretfully, it appears that our current Orange County Grand Jury missed the point of finding an appropriate balance, did not consider the recent impact of the economy on air travel, and underestimated the tremendous amount of work done by local community groups, the city of Newport Beach and the County, including my office. I guess that’s what happens when nineteen people get to be experts for twelve months."

On July 17, Michael Giancola, County Executive Officer, requested that the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court grant a 6 month extension for the County's response to the Grand Jury without providing reasons for the delay. Presumably this will excuse the County, Airport Manager and Board of Supervisors from dealing with the Grand Jury recommendations until after the County - Newport Beach negotiated limits on the utilization of JWA have moved forward towards adoption.

Traffic soars 6.5% at Los Angeles International - Airport World

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has reported that total passenger traffic during the first six months of 2014 rose 6.5% to 34,336,315 passengers from 32,217,517 during the same period last year.

While there was a 5.6% growth in domestic passengers to 25,062,714 from 23,715,708 last year, international traffic grew by 9% to 9,273,601 passengers from 8,501,809 in 2014.

Air cargo tonnage levels stayed about the same with 951,772 during the first six months of this year compared to 950,783 during the same period last year, while air mail tonnage decreased 1.3% to 35,613 tonnes from 36,115 tonnes in 2014, and freight was slightly up 0.16% to 916,159 tonnes this year from 914,668 tons in 2013.

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.

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