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Airline Industry Group Assails Terminal Plan : Aviation: Air Transport Assn. objects to the closure of Burbank gates overnight as a way to meet homeowner demands for an outright flight curfew.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

A compromise plan for a new Burbank Airport terminal has come under attack by a powerful airline industry group, which cited “grave concerns” over plans to close the facility overnight.

The opposition from the Air Transport Assn. poses a serious threat to the terminal plan, which would be paid for in part by landing fees imposed on the airlines.

“If you want to undertake a project such as a terminal, you want to have the airlines on board,” said Victor Gill, a spokesman for the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority. “We intend to do everything we can to ensure that they support this project.”

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In an Aug. 16 letter, the association asked Federal Aviation Chief Counsel Nicholas G. Garaufis to review a tentative deal reached earlier this month between negotiators for the city of Burbank and the Airport Authority.

In particular, the airline group objected to a plan to close the passenger terminal between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The “backdoor curfew” was proposed after the FAA said a flight curfew could not be imposed without a costly noise study.

“We are opposed to this agreement in its current form,” Kris Fitzgerald, director of government affairs for the Air Transport Assn., said Monday. “The restriction on the terminal is clearly an end run around federal law.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that local governments could not interfere with airport safety or operations, a field reserved for the Federal Aviation Administration. But FAA officials have declined comment on whether the terminal closure is legal.

Burbank city leaders say the measure is a creative solution that meets homeowner demands for an overnight curfew and legal restrictions prohibiting a locality from imposing a unilateral flight curfew.

“Jane Garvey [the FAA administrator] asked us to come up with a local solution, and we hope she’s prepared to give us the assurances we need to make this plan work,” said Burbank Mayor Stacey Murphy.

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The terminal deal reached by negotiators for Burbank and the Airport Authority on Aug. 3 must still be approved by the Burbank City Council. Among other terms, the new 14-gate terminal would be approved only if the facility is closed to passengers from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Furthermore, the deal links future expansion of the terminal--to 16 gates--to federal approval of a mandatory curfew. For expansion to a maximum 19 gates, the airport would have to reduce noise to residential areas so that it does not exceed an average of 65 decibels over a 24-hour period.

In addition to the Air Transport Assn., local homeowner groups have also attacked the compromise plan.

A group led by former Councilman Ted McConkey filed papers with the secretary of state’s office last week to collect signatures for an initiative that would bar expansion of the terminal beyond 14 gates, place caps on the number of flights and institute a mandatory curfew.

Also last week, City Councilman Bob Kramer said he wants to put an advisory measure before Burbank voters on the proposed terminal.

The existing terminal dates to 1930. Under the proposed expansion, it would be replaced with a 14-gate, 330,000-square-foot terminal with 5,000 parking spaces in the first phase.

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The new facility would be built northeast of the airport’s main runway.

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