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JWA director says flights to D.C. in the works

John Wayne Airport passengers could soon say “Aloha” to reinstated service to Hawaii, Airport Director Alan Murphy told members of the Newport Beach business community at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast Thursday morning.

He said he gets asked a lot about service to Hawaii, and airport operators hope to work with an appropriate carrier to provide flights to the islands.

But first, airport officials are aiming for Washington, D.C.

“It’s our No. 1 current unserved market,” Murphy said.


That finding came from a newly formed Air Service Task Force — an outgrowth of efforts to more effectively market the airport. The task force includes Murphy, four representatives from the Orange County Business Council, Jay Burress, president of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau, and Gary Sherwin, head of Visit Newport Beach.

Murphy said the group recently held its first meeting, adding that in recent years the airport has increasingly focused on competing with other regional airports, like those in Long Beach and Ontario.

Though JWA is owned and operated by the county, he said, “We operate as a business like a lot of you folks.”

In the Newport Beach Central Library’s Friends Room, Murphy toed a fine line between appealing to the audience’s business savvy and addressing the Newport Beach community’s at-times fraught relationship with the airport and the noise it generates.


Asked whether the airport planned to expand its footprint in terms of acreage, he stressed that cities surrounding the airfield would have to sign on.

“I see the mayor [Keith Curry] is shaking his head no,” he quipped.

One parking area, however, will be adding about 1,500 additional spaces within the next year.

He discussed the path forward for a new settlement agreement setting caps on traffic through the airport.

That renegotiated settlement is in the environmental review process through the county, which will look at several different options for new passenger and flight limits.

The city and the county have voted to move forward for consideration the city’s preferred option, which would see annual passenger caps increased to 11.8 million in 2025, and 12.2 or 12.5 million in 2030, depending on how many travelers actually pass through JWA during that time.

Currently, the number of annual passengers can’t exceed 10.8 million. In the proposed settlement, that cap would remain in place through 2020.

The proposed agreement would also increase the number of average daily departures of the biggest, loudest types of passenger flights by 10. That number is 85 now.


Murphy presented rough details of three other alternatives, A, B and C, which are based on the Federal Aviation Administration’s forecasts for the region, input from the airport’s commercial carriers and the physical capacity of JWA’s airfield, respectively.

Because of state-mandated environmental review processes, the county is legally required to consider multiple alternatives and allow the public to weigh in. The current settlement expires in 2015, and officials hope to have the process complete with time to spare.

While alternative A, based on FAA predictions, would ultimately see similar increases to passenger caps — with caps increased to 11.4 million in 2025 and 12.8 million annual passengers in 2030, average daily departures would jump by 22 in 2020, 13 in 2025 and 15 in 2030.

According to the presentation, alternative B would see the cap increase to 13 million annual passengers in 2025, then 15 million in 2030. But average daily departures would see more modest bumps — by 15 in 2020, an additional 10 in 2025 and five more in 2030.

In alternative C, the cap would jump to 16.9 million annual passengers in 2020 and stay there through 2030 — with one major increase of 143 average daily departures in 2020.

In all alternatives, the existing noise-based curfews would remain in place through 2035.

The existing curfew bans commercial departures before 7 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays, before 8 a.m. Sundays and after 10 p.m. daily, and arrivals after 11 p.m. daily, except in emergencies.

After Murphy spoke, chamber Chief Executive Steve Rosansky told the audience that starting in July, the Thursday morning events will be rebranded — from the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Breakfast to Wake Up!, Newport events, with a bit broader focus.