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American Airlines Tells LB Airport It Wants Four More Flight Slots, Although All LB Slots Are Currently Held By Others

Airport management indicates it will ask other carriers if they wish to give up slots, but Council may face showdown on assurances it will adhere to its own 41 flight limit

(March 11, 2002) -- In a letter dated February 22, 2002, American Airlines has advised LB Airport management that it wants four more final flight slots "as soon as possible." (The letter, first reported today by the LB Business Journal, was provided to by airport management on request.)

With all allowable LB slots for planes over 75,000 pounds currently filled (reserved or flying), has learned that in response to the American Airlines letter, LB Airport management sent a memo dated March 8 to other Airport carriers (FedEx, UPS, Airborne Express, America West and Jet Blue) indicating the Airport intends to proceed under LB's Council-passed flight allocation resolution. The resolution prescribes that the City "may determine whether an existing slot holder(s) is interested in relinquishing any or all of it's [sic] slots."

The March 8, 2002 memo by Airport Manager Chris Kunze indicates "the City will be sending a letter to all slot holders (except American Airlines) to determine if any carriers care to relinquish flight slots. This letter will be forthcoming early next week."

If the other carriers decline to give up their flight slots, and no other plan within current limits is mutually acceptable, the Council could be faced with the first test of repeated assurances by Mayor Beverly O'Neill and several incumbent Councilmembers (including 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell) that City Hall will adhere to the flight limits prescribed in the Council-enacted Airport ordinance.

LB's Airport ordinance, passed by the Council in 1995 and approved by a federal court in settlement of years of litigation, limits daily flights over 75,000 pounds to 41 per day under a noise budget system. (Flights under 75,000 pounds are limited to 25 per day within a noise budget.)

In May 2001, as reported by, the City Council voted to change LB's (related but separate) flight slot reservation ordinance to let carriers reserve flight slots longer before beginning flight operations. Within days, JetBlue took all 27 remaining available flight slots, citing the Council's vote as key to its decision to make LB its major west coast focus.

The American Airlines letter states that "American is a long-time direct incumbent at Long Beach, and only 17 of the airports 41 slots are currently being operated." It adds that "it is important that American receive final slots so that another air carrier cannot deprive us of the right to operate at Long Beach."

The letter concludes, "We are confident that Long Beach will allow American to compete at Long Beach on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, and we look forward to working with the airport as we increase our service."


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