Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4 (29841/1388) N445WN taxies at Bob Hope Burbank Airport (BUR/KBUR) on February 9, 2016.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
Southwest Airlines could soon fly out of Long Beach.
The Long Beach Airport received three letters of interest from air carriers requesting a share of its nine additional slots, city manager Patrick West said in a memo to city council members and obtained by the Gazette.
The deadline for requests was Monday, Feb. 8.
Southwest and JetBlue requested nine slots apiece and Delta asked for two, West said in the memo. Following a prescribed allocation process, the airport — along with the city attorney’s office and outside counsel — awarded four slots going to Southwest, three to JetBlue and two to Delta, the memo said.
Additionally, the slots are not official until there is a legal agreement between the airport, city and company.
The airport opened the additional slots in January after an analysis last year of the cumulative noise made by commercial jets showed it had to go from offering a minimum of 41 commercial flights a day to 50 a day to stay within the parameters of the city’s noise ordinance.
The allocation process is not complete, but Southwest knows it will receive four slots in this allocation, the memo said. The company will need to determine if that level of capacity makes initiating Long Beach service financially viable.
“We are in the process of drafting an allocation award letter to each of the three airline carriers and anticipate those being distributed soon,” West said in the memo. “That letter will provide detailed instructions to the carriers of the requirements to accept and begin operation of slots. Carriers have up to 180 days from the point of notification to begin operations and 90 days to make flights available for sale.”
Opponents to airport expansion have argued that the City Council should fight the determination of added flights, but no action was taken because the council did not have jurisdiction to take any action.
A legal notice advertisement in the Gazette and Long Beach Press-Telegram on Jan. 7 said that there was a 15-day period where people could ask for an administrative review of the decision. That clock started with the first publication in January, and the following week, there were no requests for a review, according to Stephanie Montuya-Morisky, the airport’s public affairs officer.
A Noise Ordinance adopted in 1995 by the City Council requires an annual report on the noise experience in the previous year. The latest report covers Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015.
Airport director Bryant Francis told the council in December that new generation jets are quieter than those being flown in 1990, making the difference in cumulative noise. The settlement requires the city to offer the flight slots, but the city does have the option of questioning the type of aircraft to be flown.
Once the legal notice period ends, Francis was to assign the slots on a first-come, first-served basis. If no one requests the slots, they can remain vacant. But if there were more than nine requests, they would be allotted on a raffle basis.
JetBlue currently holds most of the commercial slots at they airport, and isn’t flying as much as they are allowed. The airport currently is averaging about 30 daily commercial landings and take-offs.
(Emily Thornton - Gazettes)