A plan by JetBlue Airways to start international service out of Long Beach airport has been crushed, after the city council voted down the plan.
The latest development is a surprising blow to JetBlue, which had expected the city council to give the green light to the construction of a federal inspection services (FIS) facility at the airport, following a 2016 city-commissioned study that had favoured the launch of international service.
Local media reports say the council voted 8-1 against the plan, citing concerns over city funding of the facility which would be diverted from other improvements at the airport. JetBlue had offered to pay for the majority of costs for the new facility.
“We are extremely disappointed that the City Council would reject the development of a federal inspection station after years of delays and a city-mandated study validating the safety, security and positive economic nature of the project,” says the airline in a statement.
“We will evaluate our future plans for Long Beach, as well as the greater Los Angeles area and California.”
JetBlue had lobbied for years for the airport to be opened to international flights, but had faced resistance from city government leaders and residents. Long Beach airport operates under a noise ordinance which restricts the number of daily flights. JetBlue is the biggest carrier at Long Beach, a focus city airport in its network. It is the only airline that has expressed interest in international flights from the airport.
JetBlue had earlier indicated it would launch flights to Mexico and Central America from Long Beach if it is allowed to. Earlier this week, it formally applied for Mexico City flight slots for flights from Long Beach in 2018. A JetBlue spokesman says the airline will modify its request.