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News

Alaska Airlines Drops Plans for Temporary Service at LB Airport For Now; In The Interim, Horizon Air (Alaska's regional affiliate) Requests Three Now Vacant Commuter Slots


(July 31, 2002) -- Alaska Airlines has announced it has withdrawn its "request to provide temporary service to LB Airport until permanent take off and landing slots are available."

Alaska indicated it still wants permanent slots (for aircraft over 75,000 pounds, now filled) and will "work cooperatively with the City of LB and federal officials in its pursuit of permanent slots at Long Beach."

Alaska said that in the interim, Alaska's regional affiliate, Horizon Air, is requesting three of LB's 25 commuter flight slots for aircraft under 75,000 pounds to begin service to Seattle on October 6. None of LB's commuter flight slots were previously taken.

One of Horizon's departures is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. daily. A schedule is posted below.

In a written release, Alaska/Horizon says, "Horizon will operate three daily nonstop flights using quiet, 70-passenger, state-of-the-art CRJ-700 jets under a separate authority. Horizon is the first airline in North America to operate the CRJ-700, one of the world's quietest commercially operated jet aircraft. The CRJ-700 has far less noise and fuel emissions than allowed by even the most environmentally sensitive airports."

Alaska said its officials had "decided to forego operating at this time in favor of Horizon because of a continuing inability to secure temporary slots allocated to large jet operators from local authorities. The airline had hoped to be able to provide service to Seattle with 120-seat Boeing 737-700 jets."

Gregg Saretsky, Alaska's Executive VP of Marketing and Planning, is quoted as saying, "We regret to have to inform the people of Long Beach that we won't be returning in September, but rest assured we're hopeful we'll be back in the near future. Meanwhile, passengers flying between Long Beach and Seattle will have the opportunity to experience what travelers elsewhere repeatedly say is the best regional service in the nation, offered by our sister carrier, Horizon Air."

Saretsky also said Alaska would continue to work cooperatively with the City of LB and federal officials "in its pursuit of permanent slots at Long Beach."

"Long Beach has played an important role in Alaska's past growth in Southern California, and our company is committed to the community and to the market," Saretsky said. "Providing service to Long Beach is vital to our long-term strategy for continued growth in the region."

The release indicates that pending final approval, Horizon plans to operate the following schedule to and from Long Beach:

From Long Beach to Seattle    
Flight 2431 Departs 6:30 a.m. Arrives 9:10 a.m.
Flight 2504 Departs 11:55 a.m. Arrives 2:35 p.m.
Flight 2508 * Departs 5:20 p.m. Arrives 7:59 p.m.
     
From Seattle to Long Beach    
Flight 2501 Departs 8:35 a.m. Arrives 11:15 a.m.
Flight 2434 * Departs 2 p.m. Arrives 4:40 p.m.
Flight 2503 * Departs 7 p.m. Arrives 9:40 p.m.
Flight 2505 ** Departs 5 p.m. Arrives 7:40 p.m.

* Daily except Saturday.
** Saturday only.

Horizon Air, founded 20 years ago, is the nation's 10th largest regional airline, serving nearly five million passengers last year.

Alaska's move dodges a potential collision with LB's progressive noise budgeted flight limits, whose 41 slots for aircraft over 75,000 pounds were filled after a May, 2001 vote by the City Council that changed LB's flight slot allocation rules to let carriers hold slots longer before flying them. The Council voted 8-1 to do so even though there never was any legal requirement to fill vacant flight slots (Yes: Lowenthal, Baker, Colonna, Kell, Richardson-Batts, Grabinski, Webb, Shultz. No: Carroll).

Before the vote, Councilman Dennis Carroll made a substitute motion seeking a two week delay to permit presentation of the new flight allocation rules to the community; it failed 6-3 (Yes: Carroll, Webb, Grabinski; No, Lowenthal, Baker, Colonna, Kell, Richardson-Batts, Shultz).

Within days of the City Council's vote, JetBlue took all 27 of the then-vacant flight slots for aircraft over 75,000 pounds, filling all available 41 slots. The Council's 8-1 vote effectively set the stage for some other carrier to request flight number 42 and beyond, creating potential challenges to LB's current noise budgeted flight slot limits.

In early 2002, American Airlines and Alaska both requested permanent slots exceeding LB's noise budgeted maximum of 41. American is currently using four of JetBlue's (currently unused) slots temporarily...but JetBlue has indicated it intends to reclaim these slots in January, 2003.

As previously reported by LBReport.com, on June 14 City Hall and AA signed an agreement specifying that the four temporary slots will expire at 11:59 p.m. on January 6, 2003. The agreement further specifies in part:

It is the mutual desire and intent of the parties that execution ad implementation of this Agreement not prejudice their respective legal interests, rights and positions in the event of any future litigation between them. The parties intend to continue to address in good faith issues arising from the [AA] Airline's request for an allocation of permanent flight slots beyond those presently operated by Airline at the Airport. However, in any future litigation between the parties regarding or arising from the allocation or decision not to allocate requested slots, execution and implementation of this Agreement by the parties shall not be deemed to constitute or result in a material change in position of either party for purposes of requesting relief in any future litigation between them regarding slot allocations...Airline further agrees that, if it sells or offers to sell any tickets to the public for trips to or from the Airport for dates after January 6, 2003, it does so at its own risk and without the concurrence or approval of the City; and Airline further specifically agrees that any such sales shall not constitute or contribute to any "burden," "injury" or "hardship" on Airline for ay purpose in any litigation or administrative proceeding Airline may initiate or request against the City for purposes of adjudicating any request by Airline for Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction or comparable judicial or administrative relief; and Airline will not make any such argument in any such proceeding.


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