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FAA Backs Bid to Allow Cargo Planes at John Wayne Airport

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TIMES URBAN AFFAIRS WRITER

The Federal Aviation Administration is questioning anew Orange County’s ban on cargo flights at John Wayne Airport, a policy adopted years ago to limit jet noise.

Dale E. McDaniel, the FAA’s acting assistant administrator for policy, wrote a Dec. 18 letter supporting a bid by UPS to use the airport. The letter to Supervisor Roger R. Stanton, who at the time was chairman of the Board of Supervisors, wasn’t made public until Wednesday.

McDaniel urged the county to back off on attempts to have UPS go through elaborate and costly environmental reviews. And he noted that “equitable access for all carriers will be a consideration” when the FAA reviews the airline slots and new takeoff procedures at the airport later this year.

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Airport officials say that lifting the cargo ban would undermine a 1985 settlement of anti-noise litigation between Newport Beach and citizens groups on one side and the Board of Supervisors on the other.

Stanton was unavailable late Wednesday, but Supervisor Thomas F. Riley, in whose district the airport is situated, said he’s “disturbed” by McDaniel’s letter and intends to fight for continuation of the current policy.

The letter follows months of renewed lobbying by UPS and Federal Express in Washington. The two cargo carriers also have lobbied in the past for access to the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

John Wayne Airport spokeswoman Courtney Wiercioch said a formal reply to McDaniel will be mailed soon.

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