Ok, ok. I know I sometimes talk too much about aviation in Southern California, but I’ve been trying to cut back. This time though, I have to comment.
It’s not LAX that’s causing problems this time. Nope, it’s a mere 375 hours down the 405 (20 minutes on those rare occasions with no traffic) at Long Beach Airport.
Now, this airport is great. Easy in and out, cheap parking (long term is $6 a day), and no airport-related delays. This airport has plenty of room for more flights in theory. There is a nice long 10,000 foot runway that used to see Douglas-produced aircraft departing for test flights. Now, it lies underutilized. How is this possible in a region which is screaming for more airport capacity?
Thank you, Long Beach residents.
Unfortunately, the residents hate the airport with all their might. Look at these angry, unhappy people. I’d say if they stopped hating the airport, they might find some more happiness in their lives (Photo credit: presstelegram.com).
But over the years, the number of flights has been capped at Long Beach and they’re at their limit for jet flights. (Yes, there’s room for some regionals, but not that much.) When JetBlue came in a few years ago, they filled the place up. Now, along with a couple US Airways flights to Phoenix, Delta flights to Salt Lake, and Alaska flights to Seattle, the airport is “full” ish.
Anyone who has flown through LGB knows that the terminal situation is not ideal. If not, let me try to help you visualize. You drive up to see a cool art deco terminal building that looks very small. Check in is easy in the cramped building, but then you have to walk to one of two departure areas. These areas are basically double-wide trailers. They’re cramped due to the number of flights running through them, and there is just about nothing in the way of amenities. You’ll find a bathroom and a little snack/gift kiosk and that’s it. At peak times, it’s like a refugee camp where people just look for any place to rest.
So JetBlue and others have given up on trying to expand flights further for now, but they would like to provide a better environment for those people who are taking the existing flights. Plans have been in the works for a new terminal for a long time, but the City of Long Beach has done everything possible to make life difficult.
As noted here, the City Council finally took a vote the other day on which terminal plan to approve. Currently, there are 56,000 sq ft in the terminal area. Plans were floated to expand to anywhere from 67,000 to 118,000 sq ft. In the end, they went with 90,000 sq ft but not without a fight.
Now keep in mind, this only expands the terminal, not the number of flights. The limit will still remain the same, and with the exception of those regional flight slots, no future expansion can occur in that area. Yet even with that, the community is fighting this project tooth and nail. For example, the school district says that if they want to build the terminal, they have to soundproof their schools.
One woman showed up to protest because all the new flights in the last six years have caused her to develop asthma. She’d move if she could. My personal favorite is the woman who says there’s “soot raining down on [her] house.” And yes, her cat has asthma now. Arrrrrrrggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!
Let’s get something straight here, champs. The flight limits have been in place for years. If you moved in without doing the research on what was allowed, that’s your own fault. And more importantly, this new terminal does NOT mean an increase in flights. It just makes for a better travel experience. Go home!
In the end, a plan did pass despite the cat’s asthma, but the terminal won’t be done until April 2011 anyway. The City Council has to give final approval as do the Planning Commission and, yes, the Cultural Heritage Commission. And now you know why this region is facing a crisis in airport capacity.