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Long Beach Airport looks into adding international flights

Long Beach Airport looks into adding international flights
A Jet Blue flight taxis at the Long Beach Airport in 2012. The airline has asked the city of Long Beach to look into allowing international flights. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The city of Long Beach is studying whether to add international flights at its airport, but the idea hasn't gotten a warm reception from residents.

A $347,000 study commissioned by the city of Long Beach is expected to be completed next month, outlining what it would take to allow international flights in and out of Long Beach Airport. One likely element would be an international customs facility to screen fliers and luggage coming in from abroad.

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The idea of adding international flights was proposed by JetBlue Airways, the largest carrier at the airport. JetBlue representatives say they are interested in adding flights to Mexico and other Latin American destinations.

The study results are highly anticipated in Long Beach, where residents near the airport already are raising objections. An opposition group, dubbed HUSH2, has created a Facebook page and is distributing lawn signs that proclaim "no to airport expansion."

A March meeting on the topic drew about 150 residents, with some worried that the flights might generate extra noise at nearby schools, hurting children's reading scores, and might introduce drug cartels to the city, according to news reports.

Although growth at Long Beach Airport is limited by a noise ordinance, neighbors have written to city leaders, saying they fear a new international terminal would "create the possibility of a lawsuit by other airlines challenging our airport noise ordinance," according to a form letter sent by opponents.

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