Airline to pay $84,000 for breaking late-night noise rules at Long Beach Airport

An airline that was facing misdemeanor charges for violating noise regulations at Long Beach Airport has agreed to pay $84,000 to settle the case, authorities announced today.

That dollar figure amounts to a $6,000 fine for each time Mesa Airlines admitted to breaking Long Beach’s strict noise rules that bar commercial planes from using the airport too late at night or too early in the morning.

Officials said Mesa Airlines—which provides regional contract service for American Airlines—agreed to plead no contest to 14 misdemeanors after the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s office took the rare step of charging the company with criminally violating the noise ordinance.

As part of the settlement, Mesa Airlines will pay an additional $6,000 for each noise violation within the next 12 months, according to authorities. After that, the agreement could be extended or allowed to automatically expire, according to the city prosecutor’s office.

“This is a fair and balanced settlement that safeguards the peace of residents living in the flight path,” City Prosecutor Doug Haubert said.

All 14 of the violations Mesa Airlines pleaded no contest to happened between August 2018 and August 2019, according to Haubert’s office.

The company was originally charged with three additional violations, but two of them were dismissed after the airline showed they happened because of unavoidable delays, something the noise ordinance permits. The final charge was dismissed after both sides agreed it was outside the statute of limitations, authorities said.

Haubert said the $84,000 will be paid to the Long Beach Community Foundation, which will spend the money over the next 10 years on programs “that specifically benefit Long Beach residents living in the neighborhoods most impacted by late-night violations by air carriers.”

The last time an airline was charged criminally with violating Long Beach’s noise ordinance was in 2015 when Kalitta Charters agreed to pay similar fines as part of a plea agreement.

Filing misdemeanor charges is typically used as a last resort to force airlines to comply with the city’s noise regulations.

In this case, Haubert said, Mesa Airlines kept breaking the rules even after Long Beach Airport staff tried to work with the company to reduce the infractions.

Since the criminal case was filed, Mesa Airline hasn’t had a single violation, Haubert said.

Mesa Airlines didn’t immediately respond to an email and voicemail.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to clarify Mesa Airlines’ relationship with American Airlines.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children.
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