The Los Angeles City Council Commerce, Energy and Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved the LAX modernization plan Thursday, October 7th, and the full Los Angeles City Council will review and vote on the plan Tuesday, October 19th.
Approval of the LAX plan requires support from ten of the 15 City Council members.
If the City Council approves the plan — which would include a “green-light/yellow-light” consensus proposal initiated by local Councilmember Cindy Miscikowski — the “noncontroversial” portions of the LAX plan would be built at a cost of approximately $3 billion.
Proposed noncontroversial green-light projects include a people mover, a consolidated rental car facility, an intermodal transportation center, and moving the southernmost runway 50 feet closer to El Segundo to help eliminate aircraft incursions.
Los Angeles World Airport chief financial officer Karen Sisson told the council committee that revenue generated by airline landing fees — approximately $100 to $110 million annually — gate rental, cargo and maintenance facility rental, and airport concessions would pay for the modernization plan.
LAX charges some of the lowest landing fees at major U.S. airports.
At LAX, fees include $2.71 per thousand pounds of landing weight — as compared with JFK Airport in New York City, which charges $8 to $9 per thousand pounds of landing weight, Sisson said.
Sisson said that the cost to the airlines for each departing passenger at LAX is currently just under $6. Some are predicting that that cost could increase to $22 per passenger in the next decade.
This increase would still put LAX in the mid-range among other airports in the nation for departing passenger fees, said Sisson.
City Councilman Tony Cardenas, chair of the City Council Commerce, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, repeatedly questioned whether Los Angeles taxpayers would in any way have to pay the cost for the renovation.
Sisson assured the councilman that LAX is very healthy fiscally, and that no public funds would be required.
Green-light projects approved by City of Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners would go to the Los Angeles City Council, and the City Council would have 30 days to deny or modify the proposals.
If no action is taken by the City Council, the green-light project would be approved automatically.
Miscikowski said that any yellow-light projects must come before the City Council, without a time limit for the council, and would be considered by the City Council only after a major environmental review.
Cardenas asked if LAX would be vulnerable financially if a large airline pulled out of service to the airport.
He was told that because LAX is a destination-origin airport and not a hub for a particular airline, the loss of one or two large airlines wouldn’t have the same impact as such a loss at a hub. Other airlines are available to step in, airport officials said.
Opponents to the modernization plan waited through the over-four-hour committee meeting to voice their concerns.
“Please don’t approve this plan until the RAND Corporation study has been fully completed and reviewed,” said Denny Schneider, a Westchester resident and Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa del Rey and Westchester Neighbors Association member.