Long Beach – Airport Seeks Strategic Airfield, Business Plans

Long Beach Airport officials asked the City Council for approval Tuesday to move forward with an airfield geometry study and airport strategic plan.

Airport Director Mario Rodriguez said LGB currently does not have a business or master plan, and a business plan would help the airport handle future contingencies and run the airport more cost-efficiently.

“We don’t have a business plan, and we need to have one,” Rodriguez said. “The airport needs to run like a commercial venture, and we need to seriously think about things that could happen in the future and set goals. That way we can better mitigate the possible loss of an airline or Boeing or the cost of fuel going up – things that are normal in the business world.”

Rodriguez said the focus of the business plan is financial, adding that it is crucial for an airport undergoing a major modernization  to have a plan of action for how to best pay back project bonds and “do things the right way instead of by the seat of your pants.”

Additionally, a geometry study would help airport officials determine if changes need to be made to the layout of airplane runways, including the possible closure of one or more runways that are infrequently used, Rodriguez said.

“There are two runways that get very little usage because they are not lit and not instrumented, so they are visual runways only,” he explained. “Those runways would be nice to have if you have an unlimited amount of money, but the world doesn’t work that way. Those runways cost $1.3 million per year, and they are barely used.”

Rodriguez said the geometry study would analyze how changes on the ground could improve safety and efficiency at the airport. The study could show that the number of runways or taxi paths should be changed or reduced.

“We anticipate some changes on the ground that would make things safer and more efficient, but we don’t foresee any traffic pattern changes whatsoever, and this has absolutely nothing do with airspace issues,” he said.

Eliminating one or more of the runways could make room for more commercial development.

Changes on the runways would not impact the ongoing modernization project at the airport, which includes continuing construction of a new concourse.

Any proposed changes would need approval at City Hall and funding sources would need to be found.

Also, Fifth District Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske emphasized (and added an amendment to the proposal) that any changes to the airfield could not impact the airport’s noise ordinance.

Rodriguez said the airport needs to continue looking at other ways to redesign and improve efficiency outside of the modernization projects underway.

“This is all about creating a better asset for the city of Long Beach,” Rodriguez said.

Both the geometry study and strategic plan will take two years to complete and will be paid for through grants from the Federal Aviation Administration, and Rodriguez said those grants have already been approved and total approximately $1.4 million. There would be no cost to the airport or the city’s general fund.

The City Council unanimously approved the request.