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Airlines, authority at odds

Airport officials continue to seek noise relief after FAA denial.

June 09, 2010|Christopher Cadelago

BURBANK — A week after airlines rejected a proposed contract to limit nighttime flights at Bob Hope Airport, officials on Monday pledged to push ahead with other noise-abatement measures.

Airport officials Monday sought to reaffirm their commitment to seeking nighttime noise relief after a contingent of airlines refused to commit in writing to a long-standing voluntary curfew on flights between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

A committee made up of representatives for the airlines that use Bob Hope Airport, including Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and US Airways, sent a letter to airport officials on Friday rejecting the proposal as a de facto mandatory restriction, which last year fell flat with the Federal Aviation Administration.

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"Even if allowed by the FAA, any contractual curfew agreed to locally by the airport signatory carriers would not be binding upon future new entrant carriers at the airport because it would constitute a mandatory restriction," Chairman Steve Hubbell, of Southwest Airlines, wrote in the letter.

The committee, which for more than 30 years has adhered to the voluntary flight curfew between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., contended that mandatory restrictions must be approved by the FAA, and would potentially create a competitive scheduling advantage for the new airline.

In denying the airport authority's application for a ban on most air traffic between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., the FAA in November determined that such a move would harm the national air traffic system and pointed to other alternatives short of a mandatory curfew.

The authority then opened talks with the airlines to possibly convert the existing voluntary nighttime curfew into a permanent mandatory restriction for all passenger air carriers.

Burbank City Councilman David Gordon acknowledged that any current agreement couldn't be forced on a new carrier at the airport, but that the airlines cited the disparity as being anti-competitive.

"Their own argument that in the past they have adhered to the voluntary curfew makes clear that future carriers may not abide by the voluntary curfew, and competition with other carriers will rule the day," Gordon said.

The airport authority on Monday also expressed support for a long-discussed San Fernando Valley-wide approach to limiting nighttime noise from nonscheduled airline aircraft operations, and pursuing legislation to do it.

Helicopter operators have increasingly relied on Bob Hope Airport in recent years to conduct flight training maneuvers prohibited in Van Nuys.

Nighttime aviation noise from Bob Hope Airport has decreased by 95% due to a combination of the voluntary curfew, replacement of older, nosier jets and installing acoustical insulation at roughly 1,700 homes and schools at a cost of more than $100 million, according to the airport authority.

After assuming the presidency of the airport authority, Glendale City Councilman Frank Quintero on Monday reaffirmed the agency's commitment to noise-abatement measures.

"The authority is appreciative of the commitment the airlines have made in adhering to the voluntary curfew, and of their effort to explore the potential to execute a contractual curfew," Quintero said in a prepared statement at the meeting.

For their part, Hubbell said the airlines at Bob Hope Airport remain committed to the voluntary curfew.

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