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JetBlue Announces 17 More Flights Will Begin Sept. & Oct., Kell Delivers News At End of May 28 Council Meeting

LB Airport could hit 37 daily flights within months

(May 29, 2002) -- At the conclusion of the May 28 City Council meeting -- held downtown despite LB's Municipal Code specifying the meeting be held in the 5th Council district on the fourth Tuesday in May -- 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell announced that JetBlue Airways would begin flying 17 more of its previously reserved 27 flight slots by October 10.

That means that within months, LB Airport could hit 37 flights per day by aircraft over 75,000 pounds, of which JetBlue would have 23.

A JetBlue press release said that "[a]t the request of the City of Long Beach, the remaining four daily flights are now scheduled to be added in January, 2003."

Starting Sept. 6, Jet Blue will fly nine times a day from LB to Oakland, and starting October 10, six times a day from LB to Las Vegas, with one flight daily to Salt Lake City and a fifth daily flight to NYC.

Councilwoman Kell, who made the announcement at the end of the Council meeting during "new business," sought to portray the development as a service to residents, saying it was "[f]or those of you who have been asking for flights out of our airport to the north and other destinations..."

But the news comes at a sensitive political and legal moment, one week before a Mayoral runoff election in which the O'Neill administration's support for filling the airport's previously vacant flight slots -- which was not legally required -- has now become an issue.

American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have requested "final" (permanent) flight slots which City Hall says are not available under LB's now maxed out 41 noise budgeted limit for large aircraft. The carriers have begun an administrative (City Hall) appeal process that could bring the issue to the City Council in June and, if the carriers don't like the outcome, potentially to court.

Earlier in the Council meeting, before Kell announced the JetBlue development, long time Bixby Knolls/Sleepy Hollow airport activist Rae Gabelich opined that she believes the community is living with the judge's ruling on 41 flights but is not pleased with that level of activity.

LB activist and 5th district resident Ann Cantrell also criticized LB officialdom for failing to comply with LB city law specifying a Council meeting be held in the 5th district on the 4th Tuesday in May. The Mayor and Council received Ms. Cantrell's comments in stoney silence and offered no response.

LBReport.com has posted a transcript of Ms. Cantrell's remarks at Ann Cantrell Blasts Mayor, Council & City Hall For Failing To Hold Council Meeting in 5th District in May As Specified by Muni Code.

For related LBReport.com coverage, see: Kell, Mayor, Council & City Attorney Silent As Council Fails To Set 5th District Council Meeting. And our editorial comment: Mayor & Council Thumb Noses At 5th Dist. Residents...and ELB Voters Should Respond At Ballot Box On June 4

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