Hanna wrote:More for Money - OCBJ Readers Letters
The OCBJ calls John Wayne Airport’s addition of a third terminal an “expansion”. (“John Wayne Nears Midway Point in Three-Year, $543M Expansion” April 18, 2010) That’s refreshingly clear since every pronouncement from the airport management and county officials employs the politically correct euphonium - an “improvement” program.
The project to add a 300,000 square foot third terminal was approved ten years ago during the dying days of the fight over El Toro Airport by a pro-El Toro board of supervisors. Plans were drawn that fill up much of JWA’s available space with new structures while limiting future growth in air service.
As required by California regulations, Environmental Impact Report 582 studied several design alternatives, for terminals with between 18 and 24 passenger gates. County supervisors opted to build the smallest number. In 2002, after airlines squawked, the county allowed two more to be added, resulting in the current plan for 20 gates.
At the time, county studies estimated JWA’s runway capacity at almost 14 million annual passengers but the supervisors agreed with Newport Beach to limit the airport’s utilization to 10.8 million. The supervisors then went on to gift Newport Beach with a veto in perpetuity over any lengthening of the runway to the south.
In part due to the restrictions imposed on air carriers, John Wayne serves only 20 non-stop destinations today, down from 25 in 2005.
I have no problem with airport neighbors and their electeds doing everything possible to keep down the adverse impacts of a commercial airport on their community. Airports are best located away from residential areas. I supported Measure F that would have restricted the growth of both John Wayne and El Toro.
I do have a problem with government spending large sums of public money on capitol projects with inadequate justification. In the case of John Wayne, the plans that were approved for the expansion call for a lot more space in the terminals and in the parking lots but not on airplanes.
The negotiated passenger caps limit the number of seats allowed on planes. The agreement that sets the caps will come up for review next year and there is growing pressure to keep down the utilization of the new terminal space.
As the OCBJ article notes, “the airport is collecting a $4.50 per passenger fee . . . to fund about three-quarters of the expansion.”
Perhaps it is tea party mentality, but I think that the flying public deserves more air service for their money, or the money should not be spent.
Leonard Kranser, Editor, El Toro Info Site
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