Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New LGB Terminal Opens Today 12-12-12!!

Today the new Long Beach Airport terminal finally opened after what seems to have been an eternity! The airport handed out t-shirts to the customers who boarded the first departure of the day and also to the first arriving customers of the day. JetBlue had cupcakes for customers in their side of the terminal and also handed out 20,000 True Blue points to the very first arriving JetBlue customer who came through the gate on Las Vegas flight 279 and he was excited about receiving the points as seen in a photo below. Below are some photos from this morning.
(Photos by Stephen Tornblom)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

LGB Terminal Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The Long Beach Airport held the ribbon cutting ceremony last night for the new terminal which is scheduled to open on 12-12-12 next week. Below are some photos from the even.

(Photos by Stephen Tornblom)

Friday, November 30, 2012

B-1B Bomber Arrival Cancelled

The arrival of the B-1B Lancer previously scheduled at Long Beach Airport (LGB) for today, Friday, November 30, has been cancelled.

How the Historic Mosaics Were Restored at the LB Airport

In 2009, while writing my second book on Long Beach history, I came across the fact that buried underneath the carpet at the LB Airport were a series of floor mosaics that were designed as part of the Southern California Art Project of the Works Project Administration (WPA) under the supervision of Grace Clements (1905-1969). She was designated "official supervisor of decorations of the Administration buildings at Daughterty Field."

Some of the mosaics were visible on the staircase and the restaurant but the remainder had been covered over by carpet. Unfortunately, the wall murals that accompanied the floor designs were painted over in 2005 and could not be recovered.

When Long Beach hired a new Director of the Lon g Beach Airport, I met with him and shared what I had discovered and encouraged him to have the carpet removed to see if the mosaics could be recovered.

Mario Rodriguez was very enthusiastic and when improvements were planned for the terminal, he included the removal of the carpet to see if the mosaics could be saved. And they have been.Just this month the restoration project was completed and mosaics are available for viewing.

The mosaics cover the 4,300 square foot first floor of the airport when installed by Clements and her workers. A 1942 article in the California Arts and Architecture magazine describes how Clements focused upon the theme of communication: "A large map of the western hemisphere showing air routes occupies the central portion of the concourse floor. Large geometric areas of unbroken color form the main body of the floor, highlighted by design units evolved from the idea of communication -- ships, oil, aviation and the telephone.

Clements also painted four murals on the first floor level dealing with a "particular means of communications -- by land, by water, by air and by sound."

(From Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, 5th District, City of Long Beach, CA)

LGB's Mario Rodriguez on of 10 most important Long Beach leaders

When Mario Rodriguez took charge of Long Beach Airport operations in early 2009, the historic regional flying field was a functional landmark full of history but lacking in vision. Since then, he has launched a nationwide branding campaign to put Long Beach’s airport on the map while overseeing the implementation of a $140 million modernization plan, the crown jewel of which—a state-of-the-art concourse—will be opening ahead of schedule this December.

Instead of shrinking down an LAX-type airport model for the future LGB, Rodriguez’s plans called for the restoration of the airport’s historic art deco terminal—including the recently discovered mosaic floors hidden for decades under dingy carpet near the check-in desks—as well as a series of expansion projects that will soon posit the facility at the forefront of air travel.

In the last year, Rodriguez saw three consecutive quarters in which LGB not only had the cheapest airfares in the state, but the second-cheapest in the entire nation. All as the airport prepares to open a partially solar-powered 14,200 sq. ft. concourse that will generate more than a hundred new jobs and house Long Beach-only businesses.

By simultaneously respecting the past and crafting a vision for the future, Rodriguez’s power to give LGB a vision has made Long Beach’s once-overlooked local airport into a regional air travel gateway, one that will continue to be an economic force for the City without being detrimental towards the aura of what makes Long Beach Long Beach.

B-1B Lancer scheduled to land at LGB today, Nov 30

A B-1B Lancer is scheduled to land at Long Beach Airport (LGB) at 3:00 p.m. today.

Friday, November 16, 2012

JetBlue to Give Alaska Customers a New Option With Debut of Anchorage - Seattle Route

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (November 16, 2012) - JetBlue Airways (Nasdaq: JBLU) today announced plans to expand its schedule in Alaska with new nonstop service between Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The award-winning airline plans to launch a daily service for the summer season beginning in May 16, 2013.

JetBlue already offers Alaska travellers the only nonstop service between Anchorage and Los Angeles's convenient Long Beach Airport with a daily summer service - and nationwide connections - that will resume May 16, 2013. In addition, the new Anchorage-Seattle route will open up more connections for Alaska travellers onto JetBlue's Seattle-Boston, Seattle-Long Beach, and Seattle-New York/JFK routes.

"Seattle is the top destination for Alaska customers and today we're proud to announce a new option for getting there," said Scott Laurence, JetBlue's vice president of network planning. "Since we made our debut in Anchorage in 2010, locals have scooped up JetBlue's low fares and asked for more flights to more cities. We're very excited to build on the success of our L.A. route with this new Sea-Tac service."

JetBlue's schedule between ANC and SEA:

SEA to ANC: 8:00 p.m. - 10:40 p.m.
ANC to SEA: 1:00 a.m. - 5:25 a.m.

- Flights operate daily effective May 16, 2012-

JetBlue will offer travelers on its Anchorage flights a variety of uncommon perks including a first checked bag free (a), the most legroom in coach of any U.S. airline (based on average fleet-wide seat pitch), unlimited name brand snacks and drinks, as well as seatback entertainment including complimentary first-run movies from top Hollywood studios. All flights also include JetBlue's acclaimed customer service - at no extra charge.

Tickets for JetBlue's new Anchorage-Seattle service are expected to go on sale at www.jetblue.com on December 17, 2012.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

RAAF Takes Delivery of Sixth C-17

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) received its sixth C-17 Globemaster III from Boeing on November 1 during delivery ceremonies at Boeing’s final assembly facilities in Long Beach. The aircraft is being assigned to No. 36 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberly near Brisbane. “I am delighted to accept the sixth C-17 on behalf of the Royal Australian Air Force,” said RAAF Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown. “The C-17 is a capability that has improved Australia’s reach locally, regionally and globally. Individually, the aircraft is impressive – but as a fleet, it has fundamentally enhanced our strategic airlift agility to meet the Australian Defence Force Air Mobility requirements.” Boeing has delivered 248 C-17s worldwide, including 218 to the U.S. Air Force active duty, Guard and Reserve units. India has 10 C-17s on order for delivery in 2013 and 2014. Pictured above are members of the RAAF.

(Photograph by the Business Journal’s Thomas McConville)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

From The Archives: Golden West DHC-6 Twin Otter

Golden West Airlines DHC-6-200 Twin Otter N64141 (c/n 141) taken at Long Beach Airport. Note the Seaboard World DC-8 in the background. Unfortunately, this slide has been remounted so both the date of the slide and photographer are unknown. Any information for the date or photographer is always welcome as is personal stories related to the airline or aircraft.
(Photo: Stephen Tornblom Collection)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sheriff's Helicopter Hit By Bird, Makes Emergency Landing In Middle Of Del Amo Blvd

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Helicopter is back at the Long Beach Airport today after making a precautionary landing in the middle of a busy Lakewood street last night. The landing was made after the crew heard a loud noise while in flight.

After setting down the American Euro Copter on Del Amo Blvd. between Paramount Blvd. and Cherry Ave. (within feet of Long Beach city limits) at around 8:50PM Sunday night, it was determined that the helicopter had collided with a bird.

"An outside check of the helicopter revealed that the loud noise was caused by a bird striking the fuselage [the cabin] above the pilot canopy,'' Aero Bureau Sgt. John Haughey said.

The helicopter sat on the pavement between a CVS Pharmacy and a Mobil gas station for about two hours, according the Department, while mechanics could come out and assess the damage. Haughey said that the helicopter was cleared to return to return to the Aero Bureau, located at the Long Beach Airport, at abouit 11PM, at which time the streets were reopened.

The forced landing caused no property damage or injuries on the ground, Haughey said.

The Cerritos-Artesia Patch also has some great video and photos from the scene.

Friday, October 19, 2012

AN-124 Visits LGB

Antonov Design Bureau Antonov AN-124M Ruslan UR-82008 (c/n 19530501006) arrived into Long Beach on Tuesday October 16th as ADB2164 at 720am from Winnipeg Int'l (CYWG). The aircraft brought in a satellite that will be launched by Sea Launch. The aircraft departed LGB on Thursday October 18th as ADB2166 at 1405 to Gander Int'l (CYQX). Below are some photos that were captured by Cabel Parker.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

3 Super Puma Helicopters Acquired For Sheriff’s Department Air Rescue Squad

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A trio of smaller, faster and more powerful Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopters are poised to take flight over Southern California.

Three previously-owned Eurocopter AS 332L1 Super Puma helicopters have been acquired by Los Angeles County for $31 million to staff the sheriff’s department’s Aero Bureau. The total acquisition, including training and parts, was $47 million, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said.

The helicopters are the latest in a long line of aircraft used for the Department’s Air Rescue-5 program, the rescue unit of the Aero Bureau. Since 1955, the Aero Bureau began with a Bell 47, making the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department one of the first law enforcement agencies on the West Coast to use helicopters. Piston-engine Sikorsky H-34 (military S-58) helicopters were acquired in the 1970’s, followed by turbine-powered Sikorsky S-58T’s.

The three new helicopters will replace three former United States Navy Sikorsky SH-3H Sea Kings that the department acquired in 1998 as parts and support for these aircraft became more expensive and difficult to obtain, according to Nishida.

“They look fantastic in person,” Nishida said. “They’re very sleek looking and are a little bit smaller than the old ones.”

The Super Puma is in fact about 25% smaller than the helicopters they are replacing, but carry the same number of people, sheriff’s officials said. They will be employed primarily as rescue aircraft, but their duties will also include SWAT insertions and extractions, Homeland Security support, maritime missions and personnel transport after natural disasters.

Once they are delivered, Nishida says these helicopters will be fully equipped the latest law enforcement technology. The choppers will be fitted with external hoists; nose-mounted, forward-looking infrared cameras – a first for a department rescue helicopter; night-vision compatible cockpits and multi-patient medical interiors.

For safety, these helicopters will be equipped with Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System/Terrain Awareness and Warning System (EGPWS/TAWS). The cockpits of these Super Pumas will also be equipped with GPS, instrument flight rules (IFR) capability and weather radar.
“The Super Pumas are equipped with advanced technological enhancements that will enable the Air Rescue 5 personnel to maintain the highest operational capability and the ability to fly in nearly all weather conditions,” Sheriff Lee Baca said in a statement.

Boeing sells 717 site in final Douglas Park land deal

LONG BEACH — Boeing Realty Corp. has sold the last parcel of the Douglas Park development by the Long Beach Airport that was once a center of aircraft manufacturing.

Irvine-based real estate company Sares Regis Group on Monday announced the acquisition of 160 acres, which with 33.6 acres the company already owned, gives it the lion's share of the 261-acre Douglas Park.

According to a press release, the group plans to develop the property with the potential for about 3.2 million square feet of premier office, industrial and retail facilities.

The purchase includes a 52-acre parcel on the site of the former Boeing 717 hangar at Lakewood Boulevard and Conant Street across from the airport.

Known for its iconic neon "Fly DC Jets" sign that is still on its rooftop, the building was shuttered in 2006 after the company ceased its commercial aircraft manufacturing there. The site consists of a 575,000-square-foot building and a 434,200-square-foot building.

"This is one of the largest and most exciting real estate purchases by Sares Regis Group," said Peter Rooney, president of Sares Regis Group's Commercial Investment Division, said in a news release. "Boeing has created a world-class master plan that has transformed the area into one of the most desirable new business locations in Southern California."

Terms of the acquisition, including the price, weren't immediately available.

Rooney couldn't be reached for further comment, and representatives with Boeing declined to comment Monday.

After plans for residential development at Douglas Park were cancelled years ago, recent commercial projects now planned include major industrial developments, a new hotel and a retail center.

Sares Regis has also moved forward with construction of a $95 million corporate headquarters development on the property it already owned, including seven industrial buildings on two separate parcels, to be called Pacific Pointe.

Nearby, developer Nexus Companies recently closed escrow on the purchase of 4.5 acres for a new Courtyard by Marriott hotel and 10,000 square feet of retail space.

Sares Regis' new 160 acres is made up of two 80-acre parcels and includes two former aviation production facilities.

The aircraft production hangars were built at the outset of World War II by Douglas Aircraft Co., whose workers turned out some 15,000 airplanes, including the legendary DC-3 transport and B-17 heavy bomber at the site.

"We have a long and gratifying relationship with Boeing and have enjoyed a very good working relationship with the City of Long Beach," Rooney said in the news release.

One of the 80-acre parcels includes two large aircraft hangars known as the 717 Facility. One of the hangars is topped by an iconic neon sign that reads "Fly DC Jets."

In 1997 McDonnell Douglas merged with The Boeing Co. Aircraft production at the facilities was ceased in 2006.

CBRE brokers Bob Smith, Brian DeRevere and John Schumacher represented both parties in the transaction.

(Kelsey Duckett - Press Telegram)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Long Beach Airport modernization takes a different approach

Long Beach Airport Director Mario Rodriguez has been in and out of airports more times than he'd like to say.

And no matter the airport, the experience is the same, he said.

"It's going through a concrete building, through a metal tube and another metal tube," said the Long Beach resident. "Everything feels the same."

So when Long Beach Airport embarked on its $140 million modernization project, which will include a new terminal and parking garage and upgrades to the aircraft ramps and facades, those involved sought something different.

Today, work is more than halfway done on the passenger concourse, which will feature two terminal buildings, and 4,200 square feet of outdoor seating with patios, fire pits, cabanas, suspended lights and space for outdoor performances.

The new concourse will also include more than 10,000 square feet of new retail and restaurant space managed by The Paradies Shops, which is bringing in local vendors such as Polly's Coffee, Sweet Jill's Bakery, 4th Street Vine, George's Greek Cafe and second locations for Long Beach Clothing Co., which will be called 562 Experience, and McKenna's on the Bay, whose second restaurant will be named McKenna's on the Fly.

"Long Beach is such a special place, and this is going to reflect it,  with outdoor dining and fire pits," Rodriguez said. "It's a whole different concept and feel, more of a resort feel. And it should be. We took the idea from resorts."

Studio One Eleven principal Michael Bohn, whose Long Beach firm was hired by Paradies to design the retail and outside space, said his team sought to capture the modern, crisp waterfront metropolis that is Long Beach, bringing in nautical features and taking advantage of the city's openness and outdoor living.

He also spoke of the Long Beach Marche, a high-end food court that will be modeled less like a cafeteria and more like an open market where passengers can wander through self-serve islands of fresh food or head to food stations serving up Long Beach eats. 

"What we're trying to do is make it a memorable and enjoyable place you would want to come to even if you weren't waiting for an airport," Bohn said.

Long Beach follows a national trend among airports in the midst of major renovations to remain competitive.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport recently opened its $1.4 billion terminal for international passengers. In Las Vegas, McCarran International Airport is opening its $2.4 billion Terminal 3. Los Angeles International Airport also is undergoing improvements. 

Rodriguez said Long Beach's take on the concourse is different from other airports.

"We don't believe that people are comfortable in huge, Taj Mahal spaces," Rodriguez said. "Resorts have comfortable spaces. You're going to get something you haven't gotten from another airport."

JetBlue CEO Dave Barger, who toured the construction site Friday, said he was impressed by the progress. He added that the improvements will benefit the bottom lines of JetBlue and other operators.

"From JetBlue's perspective, at altitude is where customers spend most of their time, but the battle is also won on the ground," Barger said. "People are looking at the price of their tickets, they're looking at the price of their parking, but also how well their ground experience is. This bodes well for our operations." 

His reaction was a far cry from 2009, when Barger suggested to an airline industry blogger that JetBlue might pull out of Long Beach because of delays in the terminal improvement project.

The project had been delayed for years as the city fought legal battles over the scale of the expansion and concerns about the potential increase in aircraft noise. Airport officials have maintained that current noise restrictions and a cap on the number of allowed daily flights will remain.

The new concourse is expected to be open in 2013, though the project is ahead of schedule and could be open earlier, Rodriguez said.

"Hopefully, we'll deliver a nice Christmas present," he said.

(Karen Robes Meeks Staff Writer Press Telegram)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Long Beach Airport has state's lowest average airfares again

LONG BEACH - Knowledgeable local travelers have recognized the Long Beach Airport tends to offer one of the more enjoyable travel experiences.

From its quaint art deco style to easy freeway access to abundant parking, manageable crowds and short security lines, it has been a go-to choice for travelers looking to escape the crush at Los Angeles International Airport.

What might be less known is Long Beach's affordability.

For the third straight quarter, the Long Beach facility has recorded the lowest average airfares in California and ranked No. 2 nationally, behind Atlantic City, N.J.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's latest quarterly report, the average round-trip domestic fare out of Long Beach was $229 in the final quarter of 2011. That ranks well below the national average of $368 over the same span.

Airport Director Mario Rodriguez said Long Beach's ability to provide low costs to its carriers is passed along to customers.

"Our primary focus is customer service, and keeping costs low is a part of that," Rodriguez said.

Long Beach also bucked a national airfare trend late last year by recording a 2 percent drop in fares, while national fares were rising by more than 2 percent for the quarter and 10 percent since the fourth quarter of 2010.

That doesn't mean a traveler will necessarily find the best deal flying out of Long Beach to one of its 14 destinations, the Department of Transportation report notes.

Cincinnati, Ohio and Houston/ Bush had the highest air fare averages at $504 and $494, respectively.

While Long Beach finished second to Atlantic City, it closed the gap, as the East Coast airport's average flight cost rose from $167 to $189 over the course of the quarter. Las Vegas was third at $267.

Rodriguez said Atlantic City and Las Vegas have casinos that subsidize flights, which keeps average costs down.

In a prepared statement, Mayor Bob Foster said: "There are a lot of great changes happening at the Long Beach Airport. ... But one thing that hasn't changed is that LGB is a very economical airport, with excellent service and a wide range of destinations."

In 2011, 3.1 million travelers passed through Long Beach Airport.

(Greg Mellen - Press Telegram)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Long Beach Airport Food Venders Announced For New Terminal

A team of local venders led by Atlanta-based concessionaire, The Paradies Shops, was awarded a contract to provide gifts, news, retail, food and beverages at the Long Beach Airport’s new passenger concourse once completed next year.

The Long Beach City Council, on March 6, unanimously approved the new concession agreement with Paradies-Long Beach, LLC, in anticipation of a new boarding lounge to be built and opened by May 2013.

Teaming up with local merchants, the national concessionaire is making a capital investment of $4.3 million into the new concession facilities and has committed to bring in $2.7 million in revenue to the airport the first year of opening, with a minimum guarantee of $850,000 to the airport’s enterprise fund. Currently, the airport receives about $1.5 million in annual revenue from concessions, according to airport staff.

Paradies, which operates more than 500 retail concessions at over 70 airports and hotels in the United States and Canada, has been the Long Beach Airport’s concessionaire since 2005.
For the new concessions, the company proposes a rental agreement with the airport of 15 to 22 percent of gross revenue from food and beverages, 16 to 20 percent of gross revenue from gifts, news and retail and 21 to 22 percent of gross revenue from specialty beverage and food. The concessionaire also proposes .48 percent of gross revenues to be paid toward a mid-term refurbishment fund.

For food and beverage services, Paradies chose local restaurants and eateries Polly’s Gourmet Coffee, Sweet Jill’s Bakery, George’s Greek CafĂ©, Taco Beach Cantina and McKenna’s on the Bay. Gifts, news and retail partners include Long Beach Clothing Company, the Long Beach Business Journal and CNBC News. The specialty beverage and food operator will be 4th Street Vine, a small wine and beer bar in the Retro Row business district.

“This is a fabulous company, they are the leaders in the industry and the concept that you’ve taken, using local businesses, is just another complement to our airport to make us that much different and that much more unique,” Long Beach Councilmember Rae Gabelich told Airport Director Mario Rodriguez during the council meeting.

The concession contract was finalized after airport management had conducted outreach since February of last year, holding a series of meetings with local restaurateurs and small businesses, while screening interested bidders before sending out a request for proposals. The concession goals are to “upgrade product offerings, enhance revenue to the airport fund, encourage investment to facilities and maximize the customer experience,” according to airport staff.

The airport received a total of eight proposals by the deadline last November 18. After presentations, an evaluation panel of top management from the airport, the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau and the city selected Paradies’ proposal as the “best match with the goals and customer experience the airport desires.”

Aside from providing concessions at the new concourse, The Paradies Shops will continue to operate as the concessionaire at the historic terminal building gift shop. The airport’s other landside and pre-security concessionaire, SSP America, will also continue to operate food and beverage facilities at the terminal building. Both of these existing contracts are to expire in October 2015.

“Paradies is a first-class operation and we’re proud to be part of the local team involved with the new airport facilities,” said Business Journal Publisher George Economides. “With upwards of three million passengers seeing our name, it’s certainly going to be great exposure for the Business Journal, but more importantly, it provides us an opportunity to promote to visitors the positive attributes of Long Beach and to encourage more people to do business here.”

(Sean Belk - Long Beach Business Journal Staff Writer)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

LB Airport To Launch Study Of Reconfiguring Daugherty Field

The Long Beach Airport (LGB) is launching an extensive, $1.1 million, two-year airfield geometry study in March to start analyzing the safety, operational and financial benefits of reconfiguring the 1940s-era Daugherty Field and airport property, in conjunction with forming a “strategic plan.”

The study is expected to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the airfield geometry and alternatives to reduce risk on the airfield in response to a report by the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), a federally organized group comprised of government and aviation industry experts.

The CAST report, published in 2007, contained a review of “wrong runway landing event” threats at various airports across the country. As a result of the report, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) put out a “Call to Action” for 20 airports, including Long Beach Airport, with a high probability of an event, to take action to reduce risks. Actions include enhanced markings, recurrent pilot training and holding a runway safety meeting, according to Rachel Korkos, the airport’s senior civil engineer.

The airport, which is currently constructing a new airline passenger concourse and terminal, currently sits on 1,166 acres of land, has five runways and 10 taxiways. Airport operations include daily flights of commercial airlines and commuter aircraft, along with 300,000 general aviation operations, or GA, including corporate aviation charter jets, fixed based operators, or FBOs, small private airplanes, helicopters and flight schools.

The upcoming airfield geometry study continues discussions about reducing safety risks at the airport, Korkos said. “The geometry study will analyze the complex nature and taxiway system at LGB and make recommendations with an eye toward safety and reduction of risk,” she said.

One alternative brought forward is to shorten or close two north-south runways, known as Runways 16L-34R and 16R-34L, which airport staff said are “unlighted, in need of repair and extensive maintenance and are rarely used.” Among other alternatives are converting runways to taxiways, removing portions of runways or taxiways, installing runway guard lights and modifying pavement markings.

Although final recommendations won’t be determined until the end of the two-year study, airport staff said it is likely that airfield modifications will be recommended, which may open up some areas for development. Potential uses of the property would be analyzed by a strategic plan with a main focus on diversifying revenue streams for the airport, while keeping costs low for users, tenants and leaseholders.

“It is very important to keep the airport financially viable with a plan for the future,” said Airport Director Mario Rodriguez. “Should areas open for development, they will be analyzed for potential users to ensure the continued financial health and viability of the airport.”

The strategic plan would look at a wide range of resources regarding surrounding partners and infrastructure, along with comparisons to other airports in the region, analyzing aviation industry trends, and various other factors.

Rodriguez said keeping costs low is not only important to stay competitive in maintaining a base of commercial airlines, which generates the bulk of profits, but also for keeping costs low for the airport’s general aviation community. One of the goals to modifying the airfield, he said, is to create a “new home for general aviation.”

Airport fees impact all users, including airfield maintenance operators, which, in turn, ultimately impacts costs for the entire GA community, Rodriguez said. LGB has an economic impact that exceeds $4 billion a year, he said. “Controlling costs and finding new revenue is essential to keep the user fees competitive,” he said. “If we are able to maintain the capabilities of the airfield while reducing costs, it creates a win-win for our users.”

After initial data collection and analysis, the airport is expected to conduct necessary coordination with the FAA, stakeholders, airport user groups, tenants and the public during various meetings. Additionally, any proposal to close runways or implement airfield modifications would have to be approved by the FAA and be required to undergo an environmental impact report.

Missouri-based HNTB Corporation was awarded two separate contracts, totaling more than $1.1 million, to assist the airport in conducting the geometry study and strategic plan. The Long Beach City Council awarded the contract last December, and the city attorney’s office is currently finalizing it. The consulting company previously provided design and construction support services for the airport’s modernization program, including the air carrier ramp upgrades and the new passenger concourse and terminal project.

Funding for the study came from FAA grants received for airport capital improvements. The FAA is paying 95 percent of the cost, while the rest will be funded by airport operating funds, which the airport is hoping to cover by applying for passenger facility charges. The study and plan is expected to support 12 full-time equivalent positions.

(Sean Belf - LB Business Journal)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Plane diverted to Long Beach from presidential airspace was carrying pot

LONG BEACH — A surprise awaited law enforcement officials Thursday when a plane that was diverted to Long Beach after entering airspace restricted for President Barack Obama was discovered to allegedly have a haul of marijuana aboard.

A pair of F-16 fighters forced the Cessna 182 aircraft to land at Long Beach Airport at 11 a.m., according to official sources.

While the Secret Service says the pilot didn't appear to be interested in the president's aircraft, federal officials who detained the pilot found a large amount of marijuana onboard, according to a statement from the Long Beach Police Department.

After federal authorities investigated, they released the man to the custody of the Police Department, which will conduct the drug investigation. The pilot's identity is being withheld.

The Associated Press reported that about 40 pounds of marijuana was discovered, though police didn't confirm the amount Thursday night.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a statement that two F-16 fighters scrambled out of March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County in response to the violation and diverted the plane to Long Beach.

Ray Fox, who lives in the Carmelitos neighborhood of Long Beach, said he was outside when he heard an F-16 circling overhead.

That drew Fox's attention and he saw the small passenger plane appear and an F-16 pull up close to the civilian plane.

"(The military plane) was right on that Cessna's butt," Fox said. "They were trying to give him a message."

He said the F-16 then turned north toward Palos Verdes.

Airport spokeswoman Kerry Gerot confirmed only that a plane was forced to land at the airport at about 11 a.m. Thursday.

Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary confirmed that the plane had been in restricted space and added that it wasn't believed to be "of protective interest," meaning it wasn't believed the pilot had any interest in the president's aircraft.

Leary said the Federal Aviation Administration posts when airspace is restricted and it is the responsibility of pilots to know that and avoid the off-limits areas.

Obama arrived Wednesday in Los Angeles and was in Corona Del Mar in Orange County on Thursday for political fundraisers.

(Greg Mellen - Press Telegram)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Long Beach Airport fares are 2nd lowest in the country

LONG BEACH - For many, flying in and out of Long Beach Airport is a convenient local alternative to the busy Los Angeles International Airport.

Apparently, it's good for the pocketbook, too.

The 89-year-old municipal airport has the lowest airfares in California and the second-lowest in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which released its latest quarterly report Thursday.

Nationally, Long Beach, with its average fare of $240, is behind Atlantic City for lowest airfare, based on third-quarter 2011 average domestic fares among 100 airports. Atlantic City's average airfare is $167.

Bob Hope Airport in Burbank also had a good showing, with the 12th lowest airfare at $298.55.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati boasts the highest airfare average in the nation with $488. Los Angeles is the 30th highest, at $391.31 - higher than the average fare of $361 at all of the airports ranked in the report.

The statistics are based on domestic itinerary fares, which include the airline price and any additional taxes and fees. They only include the price paid at the time of the ticket purchase and don't include baggage or other fees paid at the airport or on board the aircraft.

Averages exclude frequent-flyer, "zero fares" and a "few abnormally high reported fares."

"Long Beach Airport is known for exceeding expectations - very low fares, easy access, great destinations and excellent customer service all help make Long Beach Airport one of the very best in the country," Mayor Bob Foster said in a statement.

Airport Director Mario Rodriguez said Long Beach Airport's seat capacity is up by 4 percent, while demand is up roughly 170 percent for each available seat in the marketplace.

"And, we continue to see approximately 85 percent of available seats sold," Rodriguez said. "The airport has fared very well through a recessionary economy."

The Long Beach Airport serves nearly 3 million commercial airline passengers annually and is home to four airlines, including JetBlue, which considers Long Beach its West Coast hub. Also, more than 41,000 tons of air cargo is transported through Long Beach annually.

(By Karen Robes - Press Telegram)