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Major LB Airport Development:

  • LB Airport Could Have 41 Commercial Flights Per Day Within 2 Years as NY Based "JetBlue" Takes All 27 Vacant Flight Slots with City Hall's Help; Makes LB Airport Its Second Nat'l Hub

  • Move Comes Just Days After City Council's May 15 Vote Letting Airlines Hold Flight Slots For Two Years Before Flying; Maximum Flights Will Be Added Within Two Years or Sooner

  • JetBlue Uses New French A320 Airbuses, Reportedly Quieter, Less Polluting Than Older Retrofitted Planes; We Post JetBlue's Claimed Comparative Noise Contours

  • LB Officials & Business Interests Fill LB Airport News Conference; Read Transcript Excerpts Incl. Mayor, Councilmembers, City Manager, & LB Area Chamber of Commerce

  • JetBlue CEO Promises Neighborhood & Environmentally Friendly Operation, Chides What He Calls "NIMBY" and No-Growth Positions; Read Transcript Excerpt

(May 24, 2001, updated May 29 (w/ color map) -- In a dramatic move that could fill LB skies with 41 commercial flights per day within two years or less, JetBlue -- a highly rated, low fare, high amenity and reportedly well-capitalized NY airline -- has made LB Airport its de facto second national hub.

Following discussions with City Hall out of the public eye, JetBlue took all 27 vacant commercial LB flight slots within days of a May 15 City Council vote (previously detailed by letting airlines hold slots up to 24 months before flying.

JetBlue News Conf. 5-23-01 Official word came at a May 23 LB Airport news conference attended by an array of LB officialdom, business and aviation interests. Those on the dais included Mayor Beverly O'Neill; Councilmembers Bonnie Lowenthal, Jerry Shultz, Frank Colonna, Jackie Kell and Laura Richardson-Batts; JetBlue CEO David Neeleman; City Manager Henry Taboada, LB Area Chamber of Commerce President Mike Murray and LB Airport Area Business Council chairman (and Airport Advisory Commission member) Curt Castagna.

Others spotted in the audience included City Auditor Gary Burroughs, Assistant City Manager Jerry Miller, Planning and Building Chief Eugene Zeller, Public Works Director Ed Shikada and Airport Advisory Commission members Elliot Fried and Kristy Ardizzone and Queen Mary Seaport chief Joe Prevratil.

Although other cities have opposed increased airport operations in their communities, LB officials beamed as JetBlue CEO David Neeleman thanked City Hall for helping his company strike the deal that will fill LB Airport's maximum 41 commercial flight slots with 27 daily flights for his airline (transcript below).

Media, 5-23-01Neeleman, O'Neill & Kell 5-23-01

Following the formal news conference, JetBlue's CEO told his firm had been in contact with the Mayor and Councilmembers prior to the Council's May 15 vote which effectively facilitated the airline coming to LB (transcript below).

JetBlue CEO 5-23-01With a gleaming new JetBlue Airbus as a backdrop, Mr. Neeleman promised a neighborhood and environmentally friendly operation, chided what he called "NIMBY" and no-growth positions, then praised Mayor O'Neill and Councilmember Kell for helping bring JetBlue to LB.

(No City official publicly commented on Mr. Neeleman's NIMBY remark.)

On May 15, Councilmembers voted 8-1 (Carroll dissenting) to relax LB's flight slot rules, allowing airlines to hold flight slots for up to 24 months before flying (instead of only six months). No Councilmember (including Carroll) publicly opposed City Hall's policy of working to fill all 41 commercial flight slots, a level that previous City Hall administrations considered an imposed maximum, not a desired goal.

(Councilman Carroll had made motion for a two week delay to allow public response and City Hall briefings for residents which failed 3-6; Councilmembers Webb and Grabinski initially voted for the delay, then voted to relax the flight slot rules without any neighborhood input.)

LB City officials have publicly focused on what they portray as neighborhood protective aspects of JetBlue's arrival. They note JetBlue uses brand new Airbuses that are quieter and less polluting than older retrofitted aircaft. They further note that if the 27 flight slots had not been taken by JetBlue, they could legally have been taken by some other operator (possibly a cargo carrier) using older, noisier aircraft. (Most of the 27 flight slots had been unused for many months before the Council's May 15 vote.)

JetBlue contour comparison A320-232 v. 727 w/ hush kit

At the news conference, JetBlue officials displayed a color noise contour map (right) indicating that a retrofitted ("hush kit") 727's high noise contours (85 dB and 75dB) extend a considerable distance from the Airport while the JetBlue Airbus' noise contours are significantly closer to or within airport grounds. JetBlue offered the color contour map in digital form to

JetBlue also provided, and we have posted in full, a multi-page document from the company indicating other comparative noise contours and data.

For flexibility, we have posted the document in two forms. We have posted each page in .jpg form (each page is approx. 80kB-100 kB), and also posted all nine pages (eight data plus one title page) as a single .pdf document (4.4 MB).

For clarity, we have put links to all these images on a separate page that can be viewed by clicking on Jet Blue provided noise information document.

A JetBlue press release said that since starting operations 15 months ago, the company has acquired a fleet of 14 brand new Airbus A320 aircraft. "The airline, the best-funded start-up in U.S. aviatio history, takes delivery of an aircraft every five weeks on average. The airline recorded its first monthly profit in August 2000, and has now reached six consecutive months of profitability," the release said.

The release noted JetBlue was voted #2 Best Domestic Airline for comfort and service in the 2001 Zagat Airline Survey and recently received top ranking (A grade) in an online survey by

JetBlue boasts low fares, high-frills flights with "brand new, quiet, fuel-efficient jets with comfortable all-leather seating" and "24 channels of LiveTV at every seat" featuring several channels of DIRECTV (including CNN, ESPN, A&E, the Weather Channel, Discovery, Animal Planet and several others.)

The Airline also introduced a "No Rubber Chicken" promotional campaign to publicize its policy of serving snacks on board but not meals. "Our passengers tell us they want low fares, new planes, and cofortable seats -- but they hate airline food. with our decision to offer free LiveTV on all flights, JetBlue has decided to offer TV, but no TV Dinners," a release quotes Neeleman as saying.

The firm said from February 2000-March.2001, JetBlue led the industry with an average load factor of 75.7% (percentage of seats filled). [Note: The load factor is significant since, as previously reported by, city officials contend the airport could handle up to 3 million passenger per year assuming load factors are above 70%.]

JetBlue's first service from LB will be two daily roundtrip flights to JFK starting August 29, with fares ranging from as low as $129 one way to $299 ("walk up") one way to NY. A JetBlue press release lists the new flights as going from "LA/Long Beach" to JFK (and vice versa).

The company, which has billed itself as "New York's low fare, hometown airline," already flies twice daily between JFK and Ontario. LB will be the airline's second focus city; the firm says it's considering service from LB to as many as 14 U.S. cities.

Jet Blue launched service from NYC's JFK Airport in February 2000 and now serves NY with 38 flights per day to 14 U.S. cities.

The company announcement received national and NY media attention. The May 23 New York Times Business section reported on the move (quoting among others, 8th district Councilman Rob Webb, noticeably absent from the May 23 news conference) and one LB resident was handed a business card by a reporter from Time magazine. Meanwhile, a satellite TV truck beamed images back to the NYC television market.

JetBlue's press release includes quotes several city officials; we reproduce those quotes, verbatim, following our transcript excerpts of the May 23 news conference, below. Deletions indicated by elipses. Councilmembers Lowenthal, Colonna and Shultz did not speak. [begin text]

JetBlue CEO David Neeleman

...We were up at 3 o'clock this morning, doing live satellite broadcasts from the plane back to New York City...

...[A]s we looked around and we saw where we wanted to go, we met some really interesting people and, you know, from our experience here, Kristy Ardizzone who's over there, convinced us, Kristy give her a big hand [applause], that really that Long Beach is the place to be.

And when we showed up here and we looked at all this great tarmac space and we looked up at this great terminal and we looked at the leadership of this city, from the Mayor and the City Council and to the Airport management, we really realized we could do a fabulous service out of here.

And so we decided to make that decision...

...[W]e knew that we needed some time to do this. We didn't want to come in here and promise you 27 flights tomorrow. And that wouldn't have been good for the city. It wouldn't have been good for the airport. It wouldn't have been good for our company.

And so we needed a little bit of time to be able to do that. And so, with the resolution that was passed by the City Council [on May 15], with their vision, we have now two years to implement these flights, which will allow the airport to build new parking structures, will allow them to expand a little bit of the passenger holding room area, and so it really is a combination of a lot of peoples' efforts that is the reason we're standing here today.

...At this point in time, I would like to introduce you to the first person we met when we got here, your Mayor, Mayor O'Neill, was so supportive from day one. To be be able to pull all this together, she's been a great help to us and so I'd like to turn the time over to her...

Mayor Beverly O'Neill

O'Neill, 5-23-01 This is a great day for the City for the Long Beach, and for airline travellers.

This is the ability from Long Beach to New York, and it makes Long Beach more attractive to thousands and thousands of new passengers from this area. JetBlue has such a high rating among airline travellers in the categories of service and comfort, and it makes it such an attractive airline for our airport.

It's a perfect combination and I think I've heard that several times today, that what we have and what they need and what they can provide us and southern California.

We have waited a long time to discover the potential that we know the Long Beach Airport represented for the southern California marketplace. To have that airline be JetBlue, so well respected [applause] in the industry and with the financial resources to follow through on their goals and objectives, is just the best.

...[T]o be the second focus airport means that is, this is their second hub after JFK. So to have JetBlue in the city of Long Beach is something that we dreamed about but wouldn't know it was called JetBlue.

But we have found our dream. We could not have asked for a better means of filling the available slots at our Airport. And our citizens are going to like slow growth, their going to like the environmentally friendly jets, quietest in their class. They're going to like the fact that the print of noise [noise footprint] is much smaller and JetBlue faced the same concern in New York, so they know what is needed. They know how to work with the community.

And once they hear what JetBlue is offering, and watch what JetBlue is offering, I know that our citizens are going to be pleased with this selection...

...I know it's going to be good for us, because we are now in the mode of attracting new businesses. This is going to be an enhancement and they need access to the cities of the east, and that's a step forward to become in Long Beach one of the major technology centers that we're growing in our city.

So I thank you. It's going to help the city, and we're going to help you...

JetBlue CEO Neeleman (2d time)

...We have this phenomenon going on in America where, you know, the NIMBY phenomenon, where nobody really wants growth, and it has a lot to do with power plants and everything, and it takes a rare combination of a company that is environmentally friendly and visionary politicians that see that look, there is a different way.

And if people are just against growth for growth's sake, I think that's very deterimental, but you have a Councilwoman that is in this district that obviously has a lot to risk in supporting the new growth at Long Beach Airport. And that's Jackie Kell.

And she was a supporter from day one. She was able to take a look at these noise charts that we've put together [can be viewed at JetBlue claimed high noise contours.]...we have lots of noise charts and we want to share those with you. We're going to be in your community. We're going to help you understand that there is a difference between JetBlue and these environmentally quiet and emission safe airplanes, environmentally friendly airplanes, and just any old airplane that could have come in here.

And I know a lot of the City Councilmen that supported us were concerned about that, but they knew these slots could have been taken by 727's...and there's really nothing that could have been done about it, so they were more than [inaudible]...

...[T]he person who led that charge is in this district of [sic] New York is Jackie Kell and I'd like to thank her for her vision and for her leadership. [applause]

Councilwoman Jackie Kell

Kell, 5-23-01 When I came to Long Beach into office almost three years ago, I became the elected official the was responsible for managing the Long Beach Airport Marketing "Red Team." The "Red Team" was created by my predecessor, Les Robbins, during his term of office.

I had a hard look at the concept of the "Red Team" and decided that our goal needed to be filling the remaining flight allocation slots with a responsible, community oriented airline or airlines, and that the "Red Team" find and attract an airline that would care about our city and our residents.

I believe we are here today to celebrate the achievement of that goal and I want to thank the members of the "Red Team" that helped us get here...

...[JetBlue flies] some of the world's quietest, most emission friendly passenger jets available. JetBlue has a history of working positively with communities and we are looking forward to their becoming part of our community in Long Beach. Thank you. [applause] ...

City Manager Henry Taboada

Taboada, 5-23-01 Well I'm going to be brief. Good morning to you all. I'm feeling real blue today, JetBlue. It's my pleasure as your City Manager to welcome JetBlue on behalf of the city's 5,000 employees...

...I would remiss if I didn't point out one individual who isn't here with us this morning who's been with this Airport situation for as long as I can recall, for at least 15 to 20 years. Chris Kunze has labored long and hard to make this a reality today [applause]...

You know the saying in this part of the country that when we welcome new people, we say "Bienvenidos." And so on behalf of the city's workforce and the city family, I say to JetBlue, "Bienvenidos" and "mi casa es su casa." Thank you. ...

Councilwoman Laura Richardson-Batts

...I want to put on my transportation hat. I had an opportunity to work for Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, and she has her district director here with us, and she's a member of the Airport Transportation Committee for the federal government.

And I'm very familiar that when we turned on the news last night, I saw people talking about, you know, LAX, and the expansion, and we really have to realize that in the southern region, growth does need to occur and Long Beach, we can really maximize our opportunities by participating in it.

...I want to put on my business hat. When you do a business analysis, and you evaluate having a partner coming on board, there's a few things that you should look at. And I see our City Auditor sitting here so we'll see if he agrees. Number one, you want to make sure that that partner is financially solved, and we have that in JetBlue, and that's an encouraging thing that we should be very excited about. The second thing though that we need is a leader in the industry, and when I think when we take a look at this wonderful aircraft, when they've highlighted the things about the leather seats and quiet and TV satellites and all of that, I believe they clearly understand where this industry is going. And we as Long Beach should be excited about partnering with this type of company.

And then the third thing was that I think is most important and that is I'm going to put on my community hat. I stand here now and I see Joe Prevratil with the Queen Mary, I look at other businesses, I see Steve Chesser with Boeing, and I think that what JetBlue is going to do for us is not only bring jobs here in the Long Beach Airport, which for me representing the sixth district is so importrant, because jobs is our top two or three priorities that we are desperately in need of in our community. <>But when you look at the jobs not only at the Airport but I believe the activity, the travellers that will come will also bring more jobs in all of Long Beach, for example in places like the Queen Mary. So we're excited to have you...

...And lastly I want to say, Kristy [Ardizzone], I think has been really the cheerleader for the City of Long Beach. If this was a boat, we have to name it Kristy. She has truly taken it on and has not stopped and has really seen the vision of what Long Beach can be. Thank you so much. ...

Curt Castagna, Chairman LB Airport Area Business Council,
also member, Airport Advisory Commission

Nothing good comes easy and many of you have been out before and we've been working to revitalize our airport for a number of years.

Approximately six years ago, almost to the day, our city leaders and business community joined hands to resolve the concerns and issues preventing the Airport from marketing and taking advantage of the opportunities in this community. This was done really to secure the vision for the Airport, along term vision, that would protect not only the issue of the business community out here, but the residents of the community surrounding it.

Today we're not only here to celebrate JetBlue's future success but our success to continue our revitalized efforts. Their announcement today demonstrates their ongoing commitment and partnership between the Council, the staff and the Airport business community to promote a balanced vision for our airport, certainly one within our community adopted Strategic Plan.

The effort is a partnership to revitalize our commercial service has been an experiment here. We've been here before. But I think today we've proven ourself, and JetBlue has proven their own ability to generate load factors certainly better than the industry average.

They're funded and they have the ability to be sensitive to our community and take advantage of what our citizens and what our business community has to offer them.

So on behalf of the Airport Area Business Council, and the airport business community, I would like to thank JetBlue for their commitment to our city, and to also thank our city leaders and our business leaders at the Airport for their continued support and our issue to create a vision and a balance for this Airport. Thank you.

Mike Murray, President, LB Area Chamber of Commerce

...The Chamber commissioned an airport study a few years ago. That study found that daily flights have a six million dollar annual impact on the LB economy and result in 100 new jobs. I hope you can hear our collective "thank you, JetBlue," from the business community.

The arrival of JetBlue underscores that the Long Beach of 2001 is not the Long Beach of our recent past. It's a new Long Beach that is welcoming exciting companies that are setting new business standards...

Following the podium portion of the news conference, asked JetBlue CEO Neeleman for further details on what led his company to LB. We asked if the April article in USA Today (which portrayed LB Airport as "underserved") played a role:

Mr. Neeleman: We were already in the midst of it. And when we saw that article, we said like (laughs) "No, stop, don't say it."...we were already in the throes of making our decision when that article came out. So how did it work? Did you call Long Beach Airport? Can you give us kind of the outline?

Mr. Neeleman: Yeah...WinAir was based in Salt Lake City so a lot of our employees from Salt Lake worked for WinAir, so we contacted 'em and said hey who do we talk to, they hooked us up with Kristy [Ardizzone] and we came and made a visit and things just kind of snowballed from there. And after talking to Kristy, where were the points of contact in the city?

Mr. Neeleman: Now obviously the Mayor was leading the charge and then Jackie Kell kind of led the City Council. And then we met with each of the City Councilmembers and explained our story, you know, and said this isn't just any airline and this is quiet and this is really jobs and this is growth and for the most part everybody bought it. There was some resistance to it?

Mr. Neeleman: Well, you can check the record for the vote. I'm aware of the vote, but did you meet with Councilman Carroll too?

Mr. Neeleman: Yuh, I did. And what was his reaction?

Mr. Neeleman: Well I think, you know, he understood, but you know, obviously he has his constituents, so I respect that. ... And then after talking to them [after making contact with the city] there was a discussion about amending the flight slot ordinance which was done and that did the deal?

Mr. Neeleman: Yes.

JetBlue's press release also included several quotations attributed to city officials. We reproduce them below as indicated in JetBlue's release:

Mayor Beverly O'Neill: "The announcement that JetBlue will be flying out of the Long Beach Airport is great news for Long Beach. ot only with the opportunity to fly directly to Midwestern and eastern cities from Long Beach enhance our ability to attract business, but the carrier's outstanding reputation in the industry will help increae the attractiveness and efficiency of our airport."

City Manager Taboada: "JetBlue is going to change the way people in Southern California fly. Area residents have always known that the Long beach Airport was a jewel in the rough - well now the jewel is polished and on the crown. JetBlue is well capitalized and within two years it will provide 27 daily flights that will directly link Long Beach to as many as fifteen major metropolitan centers. We are delighted to welcome JetBlue to Long Beach."

Councilwoman Jackie Kell: "I appreciate that JetBlue is sensitive to the surrounding neighborhoods and uses some of the world's quietest, most emission-friendly passenger jets. JetBlue has shown it is committed to working positively wiht communities and we are looking forward to their becoming part of the community here in Long Beach."

Airport Manager Chris Kunze: "Long Beach Airport and JetBlue have much in common -- we're both customer friendly and low cost. We're looking forward to our relationship and to the expanded flight offerings and destinations. I am personally very excited about JetBlue's brand new, neighborhood-friendly fleet of aircraft."

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