Smaller Field An Attractive Alternative To LAX
Frequent flyers and
some Long Beach, CA, residents are at odds over expansion plans for
the Long Beach Airport terminal.
The Los Angeles Times says the Long Beach City Council may vote
as early as Tuesday, June 20, to accept or reject an environmental
impact assessment of several airport upgrade options.
Since JetBlue Airways made Long Beach its West Coast hub in
August 2001, daily commercial flights have increased from 15 to 41
-- the max allowed under the city's current noise ordinance -- and
the number of passengers using the airport annually has grown
six-fold to 3 million. JetBlue's low fares, and Long Beach's
relatively painless passenger ingress/egress, make it an attractive
alternative to nearby LAX.
The impact report details several possible proposals that would
add space for passengers who now wait for flights in trailers, and
enclose security screening areas that are now outdoors under patio
covers. More controversially, the proposals add varying amounts of
parking areas for planes and vehicles.
The largest of the proposals would nearly double the current
facility to 102,850 square feet.
Although opponents of expansion are against any increase in the
number of daily flights out of Long Beach, many support modest
improvements to the aging facilities as long as their concerns are
And, the chief concern the report conspicuously ignores is
whether the airport would eventually allowable additional daily
flights to accommodate anticipated growth in regional air travel
A 2004 Federal Aviation Administration report identified Long
Beach as one of 15 airports nationwide that would need added
passenger capacity by 2013.
The report's failure to address flight limits, growth opponents
fear, opens the door for the FAA to overrule the city's noise
ordinance down the road; an ordinance they say only caps Long
Beach's flights by noise, not actual number of flights.
Other opponents said Long Beach was already the nation's
second-most polluted city, and that the report failed to consider
the cumulative impacts of additional air traffic and automobile
congestion on childhood asthma rates and noise disruptions to area
"We all want... an airport we're proud of," Long Beach resident
and Chapman University law professor John Eastman said at the city
council's June 13 meeting. "So modernize that thing, don't
supersize it. Let's have an airport we can all live with."
Even if the council agrees that the report sufficiently
addresses potential effects of airport expansion, it still would
have to approve an actual plan and figure out how to pay for
improvements whose minimum price tag is estimated at $158