(May 10, 2004) -- LB Airport management has told firms interested in concession space at LB Airport that it now forecasts between 4.1 to 4.2 million annual passengers -- not 3.8 million as previously forecast -- to use LGB if all 41 large flight slots (now filled) + 25 regional flight slots (none now filled) are operating.
The revelation came during a May 10 midday public meeting held by LB Airport management which stated in its public notice that it "is in the process of identifying potential tenants for its food/beverage and gift/news/retail concession as one or as separate concession operators at the Airport."
In addition to indicating the new passenger forecast (roughly 10% higher than the previously forecast level) Airport Manager Chris Kunze said one proposal by an Airport-retained consultant is for a total of 16,000 sq. ft of concession space...with 8,000 sq. ft at the north and the south ends the terminal. LB Airport currently has a total of just over 10,000 sq. ft. of concession areas (includes restaurant space).
In extemporaneous remarks to about roughly forty people [our rough count approx. 25-30 firms represented] at the public meeting, Airport Manager Kunze said in pertinent part:
Looking at our forecasted growth, our last formal forecast we did was based on fairly old data in 2001. What we projected with 41 flights and 25 commuter flights, we would be at about 3.8 million annual passengers. Obviously there's assumptions there in terms of aircraft types and load factors [percentage of seats filled].
We're in the process of reviewing those, and based on some new figures using current aircraft types and load factors and looking at what has happened in the commuter market, the upsizing of aircraft over the past few years, that could be up closer to 4.1 or 4.2 million, again presuming certain load factors above national standards, because that's what we've experienced here in the past couple of years, and also presuming certain aircraft types.
As I mentioned, there are key variables there. It's a forecast, it's a plan, and it's going to be changing every time we get more information that would show a different light on that, it could change, and some of the key ones I think would be load factors and aircraft types...
Mr. Kunze said that in calendar year 2004, LB Airport expects to exceed 3 million passengers (even without the 25 commuter flight slots not currently filled). He added that in 2003, LB Airport saw 2.89 million passengers without a full year of 41 daily flights.
Mr. Kunze explained to the prospective concessionaires that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and planning process was now underway and "we may have significant additional space, or we may have no additional space. But we need to go through a full EIR process and we need to get our City Council to approve of the concept of replacement of temporary with permanent facilities. And while at the staff level we're going to have recommendations for permanent facilities, there's no guarantee at this point."
Mr. Kunze said that "one of our consultants has been looking at an industry standard for concession space post-screening...One of the recommendations from our consultant is that when we replace, if we replace, these modular buildings with permanent buildings that we put in a total of roughly 16,000 sq. ft of concession area, that would be split roughly half and half..."
Mr. Kunze added, "We don't know that that's going to happen yet. We don't have a specific lay out at this juncture. I think it will play out within the next year..."
Airport Manager Kunze has previously indicated (to LBReport.com and in public forums) that the 3.8 million passenger figure would be updated as data indicate...but the latest upward figure comes just months after LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill and City Councilmembers publicly thanked the Executive Director of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) for using the 3.8 million passenger figure (provided by LB Airport) in that agency's Regional Transportation Plan. (LB's SCAG reps voted in April, with SCAG's Regional Council, to adopt the Regional Transportation Plan.)
The City Council had been expected to vote in December 2003 on what issues should be included within the scope of EIR for the expanded permanent Airport terminal and parking facilities...but in October 2003, after well attended (and sometimes heated) public scoping meetings had been held, the Council voted to send the issue through another step, seeking recommendations from a Council-picked "Airport Advisory Commission" which has been holding meetings on the subject.
The advisory group's recommendations carry no legal weight...but the Council's action effectively delayed the issue until after the April 2004 City Council elections. (In April, 4th district voters removed their Council incumbent; 8th district voters forced incumbent Councilman Rob Webb into a June 8 runoff with LBHUSH2 airport monitoring founder Rae Gabelich.)
City Hall's latest passenger forecasts have not yet been presented to the Council's "Airport Advisory Commission" but will be at the group's May 20 public meeting, with public posting on LGB's web site (www.lgb.org) expected by May 14, LB Airport Public Information Officer Sharon Diggs-Jackson told LBReport.com following Mr. Kunze's remarks.
Ms. Diggs-Jackson added that the new data are part of the scoping portion of the EIR process as well as airport staff's work in proceeding on the proposed airport area improvements. She said the information to be presented later this week is expected to include three different sections: one filled with forecast passenger activity, another dealing with forecasting facility requirement needs, and a third reiterating requirements under LB's Airport noise compatibility ordinance that could under some circumstances allow for increased flights (with demonstrably quieter aircraft and better curfew compliance) in the future.
The current food/beverage and gift/news/retail concession at the Airport consists of one concessionaire, El Dorado Food Services...under an agreement that provided for a 5-year term which was exercised by the concessionaire in January 1999. The term of the agreement expired on January 30, 2004 and El Dorado Food Services is continuing to operating the concessions on a month to month basis, an Airport-provided information summary stated.