John Wayne Ousts Commuter Airline

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Citing repeated violations of airport rules, officials at John Wayne Airport have revoked a small Newport Beach commuter carrier’s operating permit.

The action against Pacific Coast Airlines is the first in which a commercial carrier has been tossed out of the county-owned airport.

Pacific Coast, which started flights from Orange County in October, has requested an extension until early January of the deadline for appealing its permit revocation to the county’s Airport Commission, according to Carl Strombitski, the airline’s president.


The 2-year-old commuter carrier, which also flies from Los Angeles International Airport and from Catalina, Bermuda Dunes and Bullhead City, Ariz., ceased Orange County operations on Dec. 3.

Airport spokeswoman Courtney Wiercioch said Pacific Coast was suspended for “repeated, serious violations” of rules designed to keep airport officials informed of its operations and to “ensure that the noise generated by carriers is in proportion to the benefit to the public.”

Specifically, Wiercioch said, Pacific Coast parked aircraft overnight at the airport without obtaining the required permission and failed to meet minimum passenger and seat availability requirements.

“In October,” Wiercioch said, “they flew 80 operations (40 takeoffs and 40 landings), but only carried a total of 32 passengers. . . . That is way out of whack with our need to make sure that the noise from aircraft is balanced by benefit to the flying public.”

Pacific Coast uses eight-passenger Piper Navajo Chieftain propeller planes.

Strombitski blamed the carrier’s passenger problems largely on airport officials, maintaining that they prohibited Pacific Coast from advertising its Orange County service before it started using the airport in October.

“We couldn’t advertise, so how were we supposed to get the passengers we needed to meet our minimum?” he complained.