The Los Angeles City Council gave final approval to a settlement of lawsuits filed against the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Master Plan Wednesday, January 18th.

The settlement was previously approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners, the City Councils of Culver City, El Segundo and Inglewood and ARSAC (Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion.

Both Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl of the 11th District praised the City Council’s decision to secure and modernize LAX and look for regionalization of air traffic and cargo.

The lawsuits had been filed by opponents of former mayor James Hahn’s Alternative D LAX expansion plan.

The final approval means that plaintiffs against the LAX Master Plan will drop state and federal lawsuits and allow Los Angeles World Airports — operator of LAX and other regional airports — to begin construction on the South Airfield Improvement Project and modernization of Tom Bradley International Terminal.

The southern runway realignment project includes moving one of the runways 55 feet closer to El Segundo and installing a center taxiway between the two runways to reduce aircraft incursions.

As criticism of the former Hahn LAX plan grew, the various parts of the plan were divided into “green light” projects that could probably win immediate support and “yellow light” projects that would require more public input and official review.

Critics alleged that Alternative D would leave LAX more vulnerable to terrorist attack, would fail to expand air traffic to other airports, and would increase the number of LAX passengers and traffic and air congestion at LAX.

As part of the settlement, Los Angeles World Airports will abide by six provisions, according to LAX staff:

n discontinue passenger operations at ten narrow-body gates at the rate of two gates per year starting in 2010 (this requirement will be in effect until 2020 unless LAX is serving less than 75 million annual passengers or if, through amendments to the master plan, LAX has 153 gates or less;

n create a prompt community-based planning process to revisit and potentially replace controversial “yellow light” projects, such as the Manchester Square Ground Transportation Center, with alternative projects that increase airport efficiency and mitigate traffic, noise and pollution;

n provide funding to Inglewood, Los Angeles County, El Segundo and ARSAC totaling $266 million over a ten-year period to include:

— accelerated noise mitigation for Inglewood, Los Angeles County and El Segundo;

— job training and increased job opportunities;

— traffic mitigation for Inglewood and El Segundo;

— street removal and landscaping in the dunes west of Pershing Drive; and

— street lighting in Westchester.

An additional commitment of $60 million will be spent by Los Angeles World Airports on various air quality and environmental justice programs.

Under no circumstances will any of these expenses require city general fund or any other city-controlled source of funds, say LAX officials.

n invite the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), Southern California counties and airport operators to participate in a working group to plan for regional distribution of air traffic demand.

n develop a regional strategic planning initiative to encourage passenger and cargo activity at other airports owned by Los Angeles World Airports; and

n join a working group with ARSAC and the 11th District of the Los Angeles City Council to seek input from interested parties on how Los Angeles World Airports can address the concerns of airport neighbors.

The settlement agreement is available on the LAX Master Plan Web site,