The former executive director of the Hollywood Burbank Airport and two members of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority butted heads while discussing noise issues related to the airfield.
Dan Feger, who was the executive director of the airport from 2008 to 2016, criticized authority members for approving an $870,000 extension with marketing firm Anyone Collective during a meeting on Monday.
He said the airport’s aggressive marketing campaign has contributed to the increasing number of flights over the south San Fernando Valley and is causing noise issues in that region.
More and more flights departing from Burbank have been making their northbound turns over Studio City and Sherman Oaks during the past two years and disturbing those neighborhoods.
Departing flights historically have made their turns over the 101 Freeway. However, Feger thinks that the airport’s successful marketing push has gone too far.
“Enough is enough,” Feger said. “It is time to plan for living within your means and impose a moratorium on marketing and air-service development.”
He continued, saying a project to build a new replacement terminal at the airport should be done in a manner that aligns with current Federal Aviation Administration standards, which the current terminal does not meet.
Commissioner Don Brown responded by saying Feger had initially supported working with Anyone Collective to boost passenger numbers in order to recover from the 2008 recession.
Brown added that Feger did nothing about the noise issue while he was the airport’s executive director.
“You didn’t ask us to do anything about it even though we all tried. You were with us when we tried to do something about the noise and we couldn’t approve it, but now you’re attacking us like we’re the bad guys,” Brown said.
“You know in your heart that this airport authority worked hard to keep the city of Burbank and the surrounding areas as safe and as noise-free as possible,” he added.
Feger’s comments were not limited to actions that were taken Monday morning.
After the authority had presented its update on noise issues, Feger accused the authority of violating its development agreement with the city of Burbank — an agreement the two entities entered after the approval of Measure B in 2016.
The development agreement instituted a super-majority vote requirement whenever the airport authority discussed major topics regarding the current and future terminal, like expanding the terminal, increasing the number of gates and long-term contracts.
Feger said the authority voted for the expansion of the current terminal in May 2018 to allow for larger planes without consent from the Burbank City Council or public discussion.
The action taken by the authority then was to allow for the restriping of the aircraft parking at the gates in order to allow for larger planes, which Feger said he thinks is a form of expansion.
Feger added that he supported the authority’s efforts to bring up passenger numbers to pre-recession levels during his time as executive director, but he said he had a modest plan for growth.
“What are you saying to the community about what your role is as the protector of their interests?” Feger said. “What you’re saying is, ‘To hell with their interests. Our No. 1 priority is pumping as many passengers and aircraft through this facility as we can.’”
Commissioner Terry Tornek responded to Feger’s comments, saying he was “surprised and stunned” by the former executive director’s comments and that Feger was misinterpreting the development agreement.
Tornek went on to accuse Feger of wanting to still be in charge of the airport and the replacement terminal project.
“I think he does a disservice not just to the commission but to the community because he holds himself out to be, and he is, an expert in terms of many of these areas,” Tornek said.
“His slant now, in terms of being the savior of the community, is inconsistent with the information that we’ve had, our behavior in the past and his behavior in the past,” Tornek added.
Feger said in an interview on Wednesday that he was hurt by Tornek’s comments. He added that he “absolutely has no desire to be running that airport.”
“I do have this passion and belief that the replacement terminal should be built and they need to get out of that unsafe terminal building,” Feger said.
“I don’t care who does it. I don’t care if it’s [Hollywood Burbank Airport’s executive director] Frank Miller or [Hollywood Burbank Airport’s senior deputy executive director] John Hatanaka, some new person they hire or Terry Tornek himself. I couldn’t care less. I wish them good luck and godspeed, but I do want them to move forward with the project.”