JetBlue And Long Beach Airport Have Held Secret Discussions On Adding Int'l Flights

Not immediately known with whom, for how long and if other city staff or elected officials took part

(June 14, 2014, 9:34 p.m., updated June 15, 7:15 p.m. and June 16, 7:35 a.m.) -- A press spokesperson for JetBlue Airways has confirmed to that the carrier has held discussions with Long Beach Airport officials to advance the company's interest in adding international flights to and from Long Beach Airport at some point in the future.

JetBlue spokesperson Sebastian White in JetBlue's NY HQ confirmed to that [as reported earlier June 14 by [update] Pat Maio at [end update] followed by Beatriz Valenzuela on] discussions had taken place between the carrier and Long Beach Airport.

"JetBlue is very committed to the Long Beach market and we are interested in adding international service at some point in the future," Mr. Sebastian said, "and I can confirm there have been discussions with Long Beach Airport [on the matter.]"

Asked by who from Long Beach was involved in the discussions and whether they included Long Beach elected officials or City Hall management or staff, Mr. Sebastian indicated that would require checking with others after the weekend.

[June 16 update] JetBlue has previously and publicly expressed an interest in adding international flights at LGB but the latest development indicates those company desires have now involved talks with some Airport and perhaps city officials. [end June 16 update]

Adding international flights would require adding some type of federal customs/inspection facility that could presumably also be used by other carriers besides JetBlue. That could give an entirely new type of carrier -- cargo and/or passenger planes to/from foreign destinations -- an incentive to seek Long Beach Airport flight slots that may or may not be available and are currently limited under LB's Airport ordinance.

LB's Airport ordinance, upheld on review by two federal courts, is considered among the most progressive in the country for allowing increased flights as aircraft become quieter. It simultaneously protects neighborhoods and the property tax revenue they provide (which is the City General Fund's largest or second largest revenue source depending on the year). In contrast, LB Airport revenue from Airport operations can't be used to provide LB residents with police, fire, parks, or libraries. LB taxpayers receive basically "spin-off" sums from sales taxes (a penny on the dollar), tourist related items (if the flier visits Long Beach instead of simply using the Airport) and hotel room tax (if the flier stays in Long Beach, which not all do.)

LB's Airport ordinance dates from the 1990s when noise was the main metric used before the health impacts of particulate pollution were fully appreciated. As recently reported by LBREPORT, a recent study showed that L.A. airport's harmful particulates are many times higher and extend further than previously assumed. Long Beach Airport's impacts, combined with LB's four encircling freeways and its proximity to the L.A.-LB Port complex, plus the impacts of railroads and trucks, weren't included in that study. [ coverage, click here.]

Developing with further to follow on

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