Federal law prohibits Orange County from selling John Wayne Airport

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Federal law prohibits Orange County from selling John Wayne Airport
The Associated Press

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) – Federal law prohibits Orange County from selling John Wayne Airport as a way to retired nearly $850 million in debt left from the county’s 1994 bankruptcy. A study requested by Supervisor Charles V. Smith concluded Tuesday that any deal would be blocked by a variety of provisions, legislation and agreements dating to the end of World War II when the federal government gave the former Army Air Corps base to the county.

Smith had hoped the sale of John Wayne Airport would emerge as a potential option to help retire the county’s $847.8 million debt and free up funds for threatened programs.

“The answer we got was what we expected,” Smith aide James Campbell said. “We need to look outside the box. Selling the airport is looking inside the box.”

The county might be able to generate funds from John Wayne Airport, Campbell said, by selling partnerships for millions of dollars to surrounding cities, port authorities or transportation agencies.

“Would an outside entity be willing to pay a fee to the county to have a seat at the table, to have a say in the future of Southern California aviation? My boss will be looking for those answers,” Campbell said.

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