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Westside : Coalition Fights LAX Hikes in Fees, Taxes

A coalition of labor and business groups vowed before the city Board of Airport Commissioners on Tuesday to fight increases at Los Angeles International Airport in landing fees and proposed boosts in fuel taxes and terminal rentals.

It was another round of protests by the group funded by the Air Transport Assn. of America, whose members are U.S. commercial passenger and cargo airlines.

The meeting ended with Airport Commissioner President Ted Stein angrily saying the airlines should be ashamed for putting “personal greed ahead of the citizens of Los Angeles.”

Citizens for a Strong LAX is also made up of representatives of the AFL-CIO, Service Employees Union, Douglas Aircraft Co., the Los Angeles Professional Managers Assn. and the Steamship Assn. of Southern California.

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The coalition said it plans to continue fighting the landing fee increases--a lawsuit is pending over the airport’s right to impose the rates. Before the meeting, the group presented a chart outlining the landing fees and other proposed 1995 fee increases. The proposed hikes have not been presented to the Airport commissioners, but the rates have been discussed with various airlines, said John Ek, Air Transport Assn. director of government affairs.

Jack Driscoll, Department of Airports general manager, said that under the current lease agreement, the terminal and land rental fees are scheduled for adjustment. The landing fee increases have been in place since June, and implementing a fuel tax is just one option the city is reviewing to raise revenues, Driscoll said.

“We are not trying to overcharge the airlines,” Driscoll said. “This is the airlines hiding behind a citizens’ committee. We are in the middle of a dispute with [the airlines] over landing fees.”

Stein used stronger language in to the group: “You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. You don’t give a damn about the safety of your passengers. You only care about greed.”

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Ek said Stein made “slanderous remarks that were totally out line,” and Stein later apologized for his comments.


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