AAC Votes Against Recommending City Council Re-Open Discussion on International Flights

After hearing multiple complaints from community members yesterday, the Long Beach Airport Advisory Commission (AAC) failed to pass a recommendation that would ask the city council to reconsider its previous decision regarding international flights at the Long Beach Airport (LGB).

The vote failed 3-3, needing a simple majority in order to pass.

In January, the Long Beach City Council voted 8-1 in favor of ending the city’s attempt to move forward on a project with JetBlue Airways that would create an international terminal at LGB.


 

At Thursday’s meeting, Commissioner Jeff Rowe introduced the recommendation for city council to reconsider its previous decision, citing the potential jobs and revenue from an international terminal.

“My world is facts, and the facts in this seem clear to me,” he said. “The FAA, the city attorney, city manager are all on record saying that this proposed customs station has nothing to do with the noise ordinance. What is affected though... is jobs for our children and grandchildren, 1,400 of them and $186 million worth of economic impact for the city at the five-year-point for a federal inspection station.”

Rowe claimed that due to the city council’s decision, JetBlue is pulling sponsorship from events such as the JetBlue Marathon.

However, according to JetBlue’s spokesman Philip Stewart, the marathon and other sponsorships are not being cut in retaliation.

“JetBlue is reviewing its position in Long Beach following the city council’s vote to reject our request for an international customs facility,” Stewart said in an email. “JetBlue is an active and vibrant corporate citizen in Long Beach. Our sponsorships will continue to include the Long Beach Marathon.”

Community members spoke against the recommendation during public comment, saying that an international terminal would increase JetBlue’s domination at the airport and that the carrier is the biggest violator of the city’s noise ordinance.

Others said that continuing the discussion would be a waste of taxpayer money.


 

While most in the audience seemed to be against the AAC discussing the issue, one man said that since the airport belongs to the city, it should be voted on by the people.

However, according to former Eighth District City Councilwoman Rae Gabelich, a vocal opponent of the international terminal, even if Long Beach residents voted to approve international flights, “they cannot tell the city what to do on city land.”

Gabelich said she believes elected officials would enforce the city council’s previous decision.

Long Beach Vice Mayor Rex Richardson said today that council’s January decision is final and that it won’t be revisiting the subject.



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