November 9, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
Los Angeles, Calif., City Councilmember Tony Cardenas wants city officials to study a new management structure for the Van Nuys Airport, and has introduced a motion that would examine alternatives, with a recommendation to be issued within 120 days.
Van Nuys is the only all-general aviation airport among the three airports under management of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), which also operates Los Angeles International Airport and Los Angeles/Ontario International Airport.
Many in the Van Nuys airport community believe LAWA has been unresponsive to frequent requests from airport users and supporters for greater locally based management—the lack of which is evidenced by the airport manager dividing duties between Van Nuys and Ontario. In July, AOPA Vice President of Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn wrote to Cardenas, whose district includes the Van Nuys airport, urging that long-overdue attention be paid to the "legitimate concerns" of airport tenants and neighbors.
"General aviation airports cannot and should not be managed with an airline airport mentality since they are completely different in their needs," he wrote.
In a Nov. 2 motion co-presented by City Councilmember Mitchell Englander, Cardenas proposed that the city council request that LAWA and the board of airport commissions report within 120 days on the current Van Nuys management structure, as well as the "practicability of creating a separate Airport Commission for Van Nuys Airport," and "feasibility of transferring the operation and administration of Van Nuys Airport to a private management firm with examples of privately run airports of comparable size and operation."
The airport, Cardenas said, "is an important focal point for business and industry in the San Fernando Valley, and is home to five major fixed-based operators and numerous aviation service companies, as well as the site of some well known non-aviation-related businesses." He estimated that 320,000 visitors use Van Nuys Airport yearly, contributing to the Los Angeles economy "by spending money at nearby hotels, restaurants, shops and other service providers."
Cardenas's motion was referred to the Council's Trade, Commerce and Tourism Committee.
The proposal received public backing from Ontario City Councilmember Alan Wapner, who is Ontario's liaison to LAWA.
"We applaud the leadership and action taken by councilmember Cardenas on this very important issue," said Dunn. "Clearly councilmember Cardenas recognizes that Van Nuys airport is a critical part of aviation infrastructure both nationally and locally, and the airport isn't getting the appropriate amount of attention in an airline-mentality organization." AOPA has pledged to work with the city and LAWA to develop a system that is more responsive to the needs of GA at Van Nuys.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor.
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