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Wi-Fi may fly at Bob Hope

Staff to research whether complimentary Internet would attract more passengers. Airport has seen drop in revenue.

October 15, 2008|By Jeremy Oberstein and The Leader

Most of Long Beach Airport offers free Internet, but it is provided by JetBlue Airways, and Los Angeles International Airport features a pay-as-you-go fee structure similar to Bob Hope’s current program. Van Nuys Airport does not offer free Internet or the option to purchase time online.

But as airports move to attract passengers, Snyder cautions that airports should not expect an immediate uptick in business based solely on the availability of free Internet.

“I would be surprised if passengers make their decisions based on if an airport has free Wi-Fi or not,” he said. “In a place like Burbank, which is competing against LAX, what matters most is who has the best price and who has airlines that people like. But it’s all a part of creating this good experience. It just adds to that ease of use with the airport.”

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JetBlue spokesman Bryan Baldwin, whose airline also offers free Internet at its John F. Kennedy terminal in New York, agreed.

Baldwin said providing complimentary online access at various airports around the country has not necessarily led to more passengers, “but having it at the terminal is a really great amenity.”

“We do receive comments from our customers about the Wi-Fi very often,” he said.

Increasing revenue at Bob Hope would be consistent with a number of steps the authority has taken recently to augment its flagging passenger figures, such as an advertising program that officials launched in September to broaden the airport’s image in the region.

But supplying free Internet would fly at the airport only if it were cost-effective, Povilaitis said.

“We have to look at . . . what would be prudent,” he said. “We don’t want to look at something that gets us sideways with our contractors. And revenue-wise, can we afford this, or is there a way to offset the potential revenue reduction?”


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