Burbank Looks to Add Curfew While LAX Keeps Expanding

Remember that whole strategy from LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa about airport regionalization? Well, it took yet another step backward yesterday with the recommendation of the Burbank airport authority to enact a hard curfew (via this excellent Airliners.net thread).

You can guess where this is coming from – the surrounding community. Thanks to their objections, the airport wants to prohibit any operations between 10p and 7a. Is that a horrible idea? Well, not entirely. We have one of those here in Long Beach, and it’s nice to have peace and quiet while we sleep. That being said, these are very different in that Burbank will have much stiffer fines. That’s bad news for travelers.

In Long Beach, airlines don’t pay a fine for violating the curfew until their third violation. At that point, they pay a whopping $100. Then each subsequent violation in a twelve month period will cost $300. (Read more) The Burbank fine, according to the Application (pdf), will cost $3,671 for the first fine, $7,342 for the second, $11,013 for the third, and $14,684 for the fourth over a twelve month period. If an airline has four violations, it’s banned from the airport for a year.

I know, you’re wondering what this has to do with you, right? Well, with penalties that steep, airlines will be less willing to schedule any flights near that curfew time at night for fear that they’ll miss it. Right now, there are a couple of flights scheduled to go before 7a and I think one after 10p. The night flights, even the ones before curfew, are most at risk, because if they’re delayed in the slightest, they won’t be able to land. Then early morning flights get in trouble because the plane that usually spends the night in Burbank ready to fly early the next day won’t be able to land until morning. That, of course, is dependent upon the airlines being willing to even schedule flights at those times with the potential penalties so high.

Probably even more annoying than having your flight not get out on time will be when you’re on a late arriving flight into Burbank. Let’s say you’re on the last flight from SFO and fog has delayed flights a couple hours. Well, that last flight would probably go if it were heading to Long Beach because the cost of violating the curfew isn’t prohibitively steep if it doesn’t happen often. (Honestly, it could rise some and still be ok.) At Burbank? Forget it. They’ll just park the plane or divert you to another airport instead. Great, huh?

My advice: If this curfew gets enacted, don’t fly into Burbank too close to the curfew. Fly to LAX instead. Not what the Mayor of LA had in mind, right? Well, he’s not exactly following his regionalization plan either. While Burbank is thumbing its nose at the that strategy, Mayor Villaraigosa is crowing about a new flight that he’s landed at LAX.

The new flight is on Korean Air. The airline will now fly from LAX to Sao Paulo, presumably as an extension of one of the daily Seoul/Incheon flights. Asian carriers that want access to the largest city in South America can’t fly nonstop (range problems) so they need to find a place to go first. JAL used to fly via LAX (I actually took the flight once), but now they go through JFK. So, Korean will now pick up the slack and try to make a go of it.

Now, Mayor Villaraigosa claims in the city’s press release that the flights are “a direct result of the Mayor’s 2006 trade mission to Asia.” Um, right. I really hope the airline isn’t sitting around saying, “Gee, you know I like that guy. How cool was it that he came to visit us? We should start a flight to Brazil from his city.”

So, what are the takeaways here?

  • If Burbank enacts this curfew, don’t book a flight arriving there near the curfew for fear you may not get there in time
  • If you’re flying to Sao Paulo from LA, congrats. You now have a nonstop option.
  • Regionalization isn’t as easy as you (or the Mayor) might think

14 Responses to Burbank Looks to Add Curfew While LAX Keeps Expanding

  1. I’m kinda surprised the curfew doesn’t have stepped penalties. (e.g. Between 10 PM and 11 PM it’s $750.) I’d be more lenient on the arrivals side than on the departures side. Scheduling a departure before 7 AM can be avoided. That messy weather delay day when a flight that was scheduled to be in at 9:15 PM can’t make it in until 10:30 PM is a little more difficult to avoid.

  2. Mark says:

    I’m sorry, I just don’t get that. BUR has been there since the 30s. I have to surmise that most of the people whining about the noise moved in AFTER that time, when the A/P was already there. I can believe that some residents were there prior to jets coming in in the late sixties, but all in all, I guess the question I would ask the local community is “Didja notice the planes landing when you bought your house?” I just don’t understand why they complain when the were completely aware of the noise when the moved in. Same goes for the complainers that live near LAX and Torrance Airport. I think the people that had a legit gripe were the Newport Beach residents, but they lost.

  3. sf_burbankian says:

    To Mark: I grew up in Burbank under the flight path and lived with planes interrupting our tv shows and silencing conversations. We were very aware of the airport and just dealt with it, because that’s where we lived. No biggie. But we also knew that we wouldn’t be woken up before 7:00 am and after 10:00 pm we could sit outside in peace and not hear jets flying over head. Amen to the curfew! The residents near the aiport aren’t fighting about having an airport there, they are fighting against the expansion of the airport. Burbank doesn’t want to be the “valley’s LAX”. They airport is constantly trying to expand, build more terminals, add more flights, bring in bigger planes,etc. This only leads to more traffic, more pollution, more noise. At a certain point quality of life comes into question. If they are allowed to expand like they want, what will be lost is the convenience the airport offers to many people in the valley. Similiar to the community, the airport is small and quaint, the lines are shorter, security is faster, you’re in, you’re out, it’s easy and nice. Having a curfew is important, (although I don’t agree with such a steep fine) and it’s also needed. How about we fly a DC10 over your house at 3:00 in the morning?!

  4. Mark says:

    sf_burbankian:

    Expansion is one thing. As a resident of a surrounding community, you have a right to question and protest and stop, if you can, the expansion of an airport. Especially,as you mention, when that expansion will have a negative effect on your quality of life.

    I’m all for quaint, keep-em-small airports that serve their communities well. In fact, I am going to be organizing a group to try to stop Jetways and other expansion at KOA.

    I read nowhere in the CF report or the airliners.net article about expansion. What I read was, this was an after-the-fact effort to rein in activity at BUR. If that is not the case, I stand corrected.

    BTW, you can’t fly a DC10 over my home, we killed El Toro a long time ago.

  5. CF says:

    It’s true, I haven’t heard anything about expansion. Burbank is a notoriously difficult community to deal with. The airport tried to build a new terminal a few years back and failed thanks to community opposition. It wasn’t for expansion purposes, but rather to create a nicer passenger experience and more importantly, the move the terminal further from its dangerous proximity to the runway. No way.

    You’re not going to see DC-10s flying over anyone’s house there, because even if the terminal could handle it, the runways are too short.

    There isn’t a curfew now and there are only a couple of commercial flights scheduled outside the window, and only barely. For commercial flights, this will only serve to force delayed airplanes to divert or not even depart for Burbank in the first place. It’s a terrible inconvenience for a lot of people that take those flights.

    This isn’t about expansion. This is about the community trying to shrink the airport, and that’s not right. If you live by a commercial airport, you should expect it to grow. I live right by Long Beach, and I understand that if the city wanted to raise the cap on number of flights, they could. The airport was there first.

    A side note – for cargo and general aviation that do operate more often at night, this will be really annoying to the point where they will have to go elsewhere. I haven’t focused on those areas, because that’s not the focus of my blog.

  6. Alex C says:

    I’m not sure whether the “direct result” line is sad or just funny. I’m also not sure why the mayor’s office would have seen fit to issue a press release, unless he was just trying to show that his trip wasn’t a waste.

    If there were suddenly non-stop flights ICN-BUR, now THAT would be newsworthy!

  7. ari says:

    Santa Monica, which is GA only, has similar hefty fines. These are politically active NIMBY citizens standing up for their selfish interests. I look forward to the day when the neighborhoods east of LAX (right now poor and African-American) will put similar restrictions on LAX.

  8. Josh says:

    The mayor’s regionalization plan consists of diversifying traffic from LAX to the other LAWA airports: ONT and PMD. Despite their location, the city of LA has substantial interest in those airports, indirectly as LAWA is a city department, IIRC. The mayor of LA could care less whether or not BUR so much as closed.

  9. CF says:

    Josh – At the JetBlue press conference announcing service to LAX, the mayor was crowing about how Burbank and Long Beach would get additional service and how that was part of his regionalization plan. He’s including all airports in the region in his plan, but of course he’d rather see service at Palmdale or Ontario.

  10. Shane says:

    With the ruling about passenger bill of rights stating that only the federal government can regulate airlines, can that possibly be extended to local regulations on flight times? Essentially, can the court ruling open up the opportunity for airlines to challenge the curfew in court on the bases that it regulates the airline’s operating proceedures, which only the feds have the right to do. Where does the line stand between what is interstate commerce and the rights of local municipalities?

  11. CF says:

    Shane – I don’t think the airlines can get out of this one. In this case if you look at the application, you’ll see it says “FAA approval must be obtained by the Airport Authority prior to the implementation of any of the three curfews.” So, this may be implemented by a local body, but it’s done with the permission of the FAA.

  12. Mark says:

    Shane:

    In my mind as far as curfews are concerned, the municipalities are not regulating the airlines. They are regulating the airports. It is the owner of the airport that sets hours. The airlines are merely customers or tenants of the airport.

    The Burbank Glendale Pasadena Airport Authority owns and controls BUR. So, they have the right to set hours. If they wanted to be open from 1:00 to 2:00 in the morning only, then they could do that provided they met environmental, noise abatement and other guidelines as set forth by the government agencies regulating them.

    This is quite simplistic, and you do bring up a fair point, as to the rights of airlines as common carriers etc. etc. However, I don’t think anyone could make a case that this curfew in particular is restricting interstate commerce, especially given the availability of landing spots at other close-by airports. As CF points out, most of the traffic that wants to land post-curfew is freight. There is a HUGE logistical airport open 24-7-365 just over the hill (SCLA) that the freighters can use as an alternate to BUR.

    My amateur law firm is now closed.

  13. David Ross says:

    The authorities should be imposing a “I’m a stupid idiot” fine for the idiots who moved near the airport. Come on, people, there’s an airport nearby. Didn’t you think there would be noise nearby?

    Unless you have lived near the airport since before it was an airport, you have NO right to complain about the noise.

    Me? I’d love to live near the airport.

    Mark is entirely wrong. A curfew does restrict interstate commerce. There are many people who want to fly to the east coast after spending a full day in the area. If they leave after 6 but before the stupid curfew time of 10, then they arrive on the east coast in the wee hours of the morning. If they leave around midnight then they arrive at a more decent time.

    If it was up to me, the only time there would be a curfew would be…. NEVER.

  14. Aviatrix says:

    SF_Burbankian, I had to laugh when you said “This only leads to more traffic, more pollution, more noise.” The San Fernando Valley is the definition of traffic (101/405 interchange), pollution (can’t see the mountains over downtown Burbank on most days), and noise (no matter where in the valley you are you hear the freeway roar). A 21st century airport is a necessity. LA has the highest population density in the country behind NYC – and they have three major airports serving them. LA has LAX. That’s it. The voters have prevented any upgrades at BUR, apart from widening the hallway a few years ago and adding a crappy restaurant. The people of the valley are underserved – they need expanded service, not just another OAK or LAS flight out of BUR. And I lived under the landing pattern for 8 years – jet engines never drowned out the sound of my TV or halted conversations. But the whine of a dozen news choppers sure did whenever there was a wreck on the freeway.

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