JWA works to expand into more markets

As John Wayne Airport builds a customs inspection center and prepares to reinstate service to Canada next month, airport officials are hiring a consultant to expand into other North American markets.

Soon, officials will announce an "air service development" consultant to help them evaluate prospective markets, especially those in Mexico and Canada, spokeswoman Jenny Wedge said.

The need for such a position is new for JWA, which is grappling with declining passenger counts and will soon have more capacity. In November, it plans to open Terminal C, with six additional commercial passenger gates.

"We were never in a position where we didn't have enough passengers coming here," Wedge said.

JWA served 8.6 million passengers in 2010, which is down from 9.9 million in 2007 and under its limit of 10.8 million passengers stipulated in a legal agreement it has with Newport Beach and some airport activist groups.

WestJet, a Canadian low-cost carrier, will begin nonstop service to Vancouver on May 2, and to Calgary on June 13.

Steve Bone, chairman of the Orange County Tourism Council, was excited about bringing more Canadians to the area.

"Their rainy winter makes for a great vacation and a business meeting in Southern California and the Orange County coast," he said.

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