Independent management urged for Van Nuys

July 20, 2011

The Van Nuys, Calif., airport, once the busiest general aviation airport in the world, is not getting the management attention it requires from the embattled Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) organization, AOPA said. The association is urging the Los Angeles City Council to fully explore creating an independent board of airport commissioners for Van Nuys.

Of the three airports owned and operated by LAWA, Van Nuys is the only exclusively GA facility, and has gotten “lost in the noise” of controversies about LAWA that have risen to “fever pitch,” wrote AOPA Vice President for Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn in a July 18 letter to Los Angeles City Councilor Tony Cardenas, whose district includes Van Nuys Airport. LAWA manages Los Angeles International Airport, Ontario, and Van Nuys (VNY) airports.

“General aviation airports cannot and should not be managed with an airline airport mentality since they are completely different in their needs,” he wrote.

Dunn said that AOPA shares the view of many in the local Van Nuys community that its airport “simply does not receive the attention necessary to ensure continued efficient development, attraction of business and management, and attention to the legitimate concerns of airport tenants and neighbors” because the board of airport commissioners “does not meet in Van Nuys and is inaccessible to the community on a convenient basis.” The airport “becomes lost in the LAWA bureaucracy,” creating an untenable situation.

Dunn cited the example, in which AOPA has been involved, of a private developer who has spent four years attempting to secure a land lease for a multi-million-dollar aircraft hangar project. Despite significant spending to comply with LAWA processes, and substantial investment in the project, the developer still has no lease and “no reliable timeline for a resolution.”

“Even the airport manager at VNY is part-time, serving both Van Nuys and Ontario Airports,” Dunn said.

Dunn told Cardenas that AOPA shares the belief of many in the community that the city should “fully vet the possibility of the creation of a VNY Board of Airport Commissioners whose purpose would be solely focused on Van Nuys Airport without the distractions of managing and operating airline airports.”

He rejected as inadequate the idea of establishing a subcommittee of the current operating structure as a way of addressing the needs of Van Nuys. “Oversight, management, marketing and development of VNY must be independent of the decision-making process now in place within LAWA and the BOAC,” he said in the letter to Cardenas.