The Air Transportation Association and the Los Angeles Airlines Airport Affairs Committee oppose having the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Master Plan Alternative D approved in its entirety by the Los Angeles City Council.
The two groups say they want to work with Los Angeles Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski for passage of her two-phase proposal that would have the City Council endorse development of only some of the Alternative D now.
The Air Transportation Association is a trade association of U.S. scheduled airline industry and represents 23 airlines, including all major domestic passenger and cargo air carriers that use LAX.
The Los Angeles Airlines Airport Affairs Committee represents more than 80 airlines at LAX.
“We believe that Los Angeles World Airports officials largely ignored the industry’s comments by not incorporating them into the final proposal feasible design modifications that would result in less environmental impacts, while satisfying the LAX Master Plan objectives,” said Air Transportation Association State and Local Government Affairs managing director Robert Dibblee.
“We are encouraged by Miscikowski’s consensus plan to bring order to the current disharmony on the LAX Master Plan objectives and we are working together to facilitate her green light projects as quickly as possible,” Dibblee said.
Miscikowski’s consensus plan calls for implementing as soon as possible specific “green light” projects that she says are necessary to LAX safety and security.
Under the Miscikowski proposal, controversial projects in the Alternative D plan would be delayed for further analysis.
“We have not asked for, nor received assurance from, Miscikowski regarding acceptance of her plan by the (Los Angeles) City Council, and understand she would not be in a position to offer that assurance,” said Dibblee.
“The airlines share the vision for a safer, more secure and user-friendly LAX, which are the stated objectives of Alternative D,” said a joint commentary from the Air Transportation Association and the Los Angeles Airlines Airport Affairs Committee, in response to the LAX Master Plan addendum and supplemental environmental impact report/statement (EIR/EIS) last November.
“The airlines agree that LAX needs to be modernized to continue to effectively serve the traveling public, and to remain the key economic engine for the region, but Alternative D falls far short of these objectives, and fails to achieve these objectives at a staggering cost of over $9 billion,” the joint commentary stated.
“The Air Transportation Association and the Los Angeles Airlines Airport Affairs Committee say their proposed modifications to Alternative D could make safety, security and infrastructure improvements for far less, approximately $2 to $3 billion.”
“The Air Transportation Association has strong reservations about Manchester Square being used as a ground transportation center, closing the Central Terminal, or demolishing Terminals 1, 2 and 3,” Dibblee said.
“This is a handicap to customer service and changes the passenger experience and is unnecessary, because security doesn’t mandate this solution,” Dibblee said.
“Alternative D would potentially increase the per enplaned passenger cost between $25 and $30, making LAX one of the most expensive airports in the country,” he said.
Additionally, the two groups want the Tom Bradley International Terminal to be renovated immediately, to serve the A-380 Airbus aircraft scheduled to arrive at LAX by 2006.
The two groups say that the airlines question the value and timing of the $9 billion Alternative D plan, and are concerned as to whether the plan can be financed. United Airlines officials say they support Alternative D.
A $9 billion plan that reduces airport capacity will raise issues with the financial markets, and the current financial conditions of airlines makes it unwise for the city to embark on the plan, say the airlines.
Not only is Alternative D proposed to be by far the largest airport capital program, it is the only one that doesn’t add capacity, which would result in a disproportionate level of investment for the return, the joint commentary states.
MODIFIED PROPOSAL — The airlines propose a modified Alternative D to improve the security, safety and customer service level at LAX that they believe is faster, better, and more cost-effective:
n on airfield security: south airfield improvements contained in Alternative D, including relocation of Runway 7R/25L, and addition of a centerline taxiway to prevent runway incursions, would remain in modified Alternative D;
n security improvements mandated by the federal government, such as the $300 million installation of in-line checked baggage screening systems in the terminals — which is already addressed by LAX officials — would remain in modified Alternative D;
n security checkpoints in the terminals would be expanded to expedite passengers into the secure areas and the terminals would be hardened as appropriate to minimize damage and make the terminals far less attractive terrorist targets;
n on traffic congestion: the development of a consolidated rental car facility would improve traffic flow in the Central Terminal Area by greatly reducing the number of buses;
n expansion of the Flyaway Bus System throughout the Los Angeles area would reduce single-occupancy traffic in both the Central Terminal Area and the adjacent roadways;
n security may also be improved, as fewer vehicles in the Central Terminal Area should allow better responses by emergency vehicles;
n on customer service: aircraft gates would be added on the west side of the Tom Bradley International Terminal and the building would be renovated to replace both existing remote gates, and accommodate the new A-380 larger aircraft expected;
n the Central Terminal Area would remain open to private vehicles;
n on timing: with modified Alternative D, the critical safety, security and passenger service improvements needed at LAX can be constructed much more quickly;
n on cost: the overall cost would be in the $2 billion to $3 billion range, significantly less than the estimated cost for Alternative D.
The two groups said:
“To date, seven airlines serving LAX, most of which operate from the international terminal, have ordered the A-380 larger aircraft, with the probability that LAX will be among the first airports to be served with the new equipment, scheduled to be in service by 2006.”
“Tom Bradley International Terminal is the gateway to Los Angeles for millions of international travelers each year. In order to improve the current passenger service levels, which are substandard, the terminal is in immediate need of the refurbishment currently under design,” said the two airline groups.
NOT SUPPORTED — The LAX airlines do not support components of Alternative D that the airlines claim do not enhance, and may substantially reduce, security and customer service at LAX.
n construction of a ground transportation center at Manchester Square;
n elimination of parking garages in the Central Terminal Area; conversion of the parking to other facilities is neither necessary nor desirable;
n the proposed demolition of Terminals 1, 2 and 3, and the north airfield improvements do not offset the excessive costs.
SAFETY — Alternative D calls for the construction of two new aircraft maintenance facilities totaling approximately 300,000 square feet on the west side of the airport, south of World Way West, and immediately west of the existing Continental aircraft maintenance facility, according to the joint commentary.
“This area overlays known and suspected jet fuel and halogenated volatile organic compound (HVOC) plumes in soil and groundwater.
The ongoing and planned remediation of such soil and groundwater contamination would be greatly hindered, as such contamination might be greatly exacerbated by the construction activities of Alternative D, according to the joint summary.
“The supplemental draft EIR/EIS does not meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and it calls into question the proposed construction schedule, with costs for the project understated,” the groups claim.
“The supplemental draft EIR/EIS does not adequately analyze these significant adverse environmental impacts, or the feasible mitigation measures, or project alternatives which are available to avoid or significantly lessen these environmental impacts,” the joint commentary alleges.
AIRLINE PASSENGER COST — The two groups claim that if the Alternative D project were completed, passengers leaving LAX could be charged an additional $25 to $30 to help pay for the project — likely making LAX one of the most expensive airports in the country.
“As the second largest metropolitan area in the country, Los Angeles is too important a market for most carriers to abandon.
“However, with this increased level of cost, airlines will have little choice but to try and pass these costs on to their customers.
“Airlines are finding that more difficult as all travelers, including business travelers, are becoming price sensitive,” concluded the joint commentary.
“Airlines have an obvious stake in the eventual outcome of the LAX Master Plan process.
“That is why we are united in our support for a process that will lead to the development of an LAX that is safer, more secure, and maintains a higher degree of customer service, traits that should reflect its standing as the world’s number one origin and destination airport, Dibblee said in his testimony to the Los Angeles Airport Board of Commissioners regarding the LAX Master Plan Alternative D EIR/EIS final comments.
“At the end of the day, we in the aviation industry want to be able to point to this airport with pride along with the local citizenry, and we pledge a willingness to work with all concerned and serious parties through this process,” Dibblee concluded.