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Air Traffic at Van Nuys Field Continues to Show Decline

Times Staff Writer

The number of takeoffs and landings at Van Nuys Airport has continued its downward slide after reaching a 20-year low last year, airport officials said Friday.

The general-aviation facility logged 361,574 landings and takeoffs in the first nine months of this year, a drop of 5.2% from the same period last year, an announcement by the Los Angeles Department of Airports said.

However, there was a slight upturn during the summer from an even steeper drop in traffic earlier in the year. For the first six months of 1986, Van Nuys registered 229,501 takeoffs and landings, down 7.4% from the same period last year.

Van Nuys Airport spokesman Tom Winfrey said the continuing decrease lowered the standing of the airport to about the sixth-busiest in the United States in terms of operations, or takeoffs and landings.

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For many years, Van Nuys Airport had been the third-busiest airport in the United States.

Traffic at the airport has declined in three of the last four years and has been on a general downward trend for 10 years, primarily because of the declining state of private aviation, Winfrey said.

“It’s just expensive to fly nowadays, and the whole status of private aviation is low right now,” he said.

General-aviation industry sources say the industry has been in decline since it was hit by steeply rising fuel prices in the 1970s. By the time oil prices eased, the depressed economy of the late 1970s and early 1980s held down business flying, they said, and, in recent years, the cost of product-liability insurance has severely limited the output of light plane manufacturers.

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