A $10M upgrade to Long Beach Airport (LGB) could make it the International Long Beach Airport as talks between LGB and JetBlue have been held concerning the debut of Long Beach’s municipal airport on the world stage.
The talks, insist both LGB and JetBlue officials, are in their beginning stages.
"We are always looking to expand and fly to the places people want to go," said Tamara Young, Manager of Corporate Communications at JetBlue. "We have expressed our interest in starting international flights at LGB to airport and city officials. However, in order for us to provide international service out of Long Beach, the airport and the federal government would be required to build and staff a Customs and Border Protection facility. Standing up such a facility is a lengthy process and JetBlue, as the largest airline at LGB, is eager to begin this work with the City of Long Beach."
JetBlue President Robin Hayes, at the The Grove in Los Angeles last week to discuss the airliner’s Mint business class service on flights to and from LA and New York, noted to the Long Beach Register that JetBlue was “very keen” on making LGB international but would require the building of US Customs facilities—hence the $10M, an estimated cost of the upgrades.
That price tag was something that former Airport Director Mario Rodriguez—now serving as Executive Director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority in Indiana while Deputy City Manager Reginald “Reggie” Harrison acts as LGB's Interim Airport Director—allegedly told JetBlue the taxpayers of Long Beach would not be taking on.
JetBlue is no stranger to international travel as it began international flights in 2004 after adding Embraer 190 aircraft to its fleet.
In 2007, in order to mitigate growing costs, the airliner created partnerships with already-existing airlines, the first being Aer Lingus; by 2009, the airliner had molded profitable relationships with multiple airlines, including Lufthansa and Swiss. By March of this year—with relationships with LATAM Airlines Group, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, Asiana Airlines, Korean Air and China Airlines already strong— JetBlue began seeking even more partnerships to expand the airline's growing coverage.
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