Long Beach airport international expansion hinges on funding

Los Angeles
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Long Beach airport is willing to consider the addition of an international arrivals facility at the airport, following comments by JetBlue Airways chief executive Dave Barger in favour of adding such service from the city.

The main issue would be funding for an expansion, the airport says. It adds that maintaining its fiscally responsible approach to capital projects is a priority.

JetBlue has a long track record of successful partnership projects creating world-class facilities across our system where we participate in project financing,” says the New York-based carrier. “We have no plans to deviate from that on future projects across the network for the benefit of our customers.”

For example, JetBlue is financing a roughly $200 million expansion of terminal 5 at New York JFK International airport that includes three gates and a new international arrivals facility.

Any expansion project at Long Beach airport also requires city approval, the airport says.

Barger told Flightglobal in November that JetBlue was “very excited” about opportunities in Long Beach and that he could foresee possible flights to Mexico and Central America if an international arrivals facility was built.

A change in slot restrictions at Long Beach would likely need to accompany the addition of new international flights at the airport. JetBlue uses 32 of the 41 slots available for mainline carriers at the airport with the balance used by competitors.

There are also 25 commuter – aircraft that weigh about 34,019kg (75,000lbs) or less – slots available with only a handful used by other airlines.

Any addition of mainline slots or conversion of commuter slots to mainline operations would require studies and city approval, says the airport. The slots are in place due to noise concerns from nearby neighbourhoods.

Long Beach says that it has held “discussions” about the possibility of a new international facility and any change to its slot regime but says that it is not actively pursuing either currently.

The airport opened a new 11-gate concourse in December 2012. A bright and airy facility that includes both indoor and outdoor elements, JetBlue occupies seven gates with the remaining four used by Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways.