Long Beach Airport Commits To Build New General Aviation Facility

Million Air North Site To Be Displaced By Car Rentals, New Location Underway

By Sean Belk - Staff Writer

April 24, 2012 – Long Beach Airport managers said they are committed to finding a location to develop a new home for general aviation tenants and facilities being displaced due to the construction of a car rental hub near the airport’s new terminal.

The site located adjacent to the airport’s north baggage claim area at 4225 Donald Douglas Dr. is currently being leased by Million Air North, Inc., a fixed based operator (FBO) that provides private general aviation airplane tie downs, hangars, secure vehicle parking, fuel and wash facilities. The site is located near the airport’s information center and public affairs division building.

Since there is no alternative location to relocate current airport tenants and tie downs, Million Air North has agreed to operate its existing services on a short-term basis until a new general aviation facility can be located and developed by the airport. General aviation mostly refers to small private, single-engine or light twin-engine piston-driven aircraft, but may also include some privately owned mid-size commercial aircraft.

The existing site provides for approximately 100 tie-downs, 36 T-hangars, a 10,000-square-foot hangar, and a 200,000-gallon bulk fuel facility to receive, store and dispense jet fuel to the airport’s commercial carriers. The site also has approximately 25,000 square feet of administrative office, shop and warehouse space for various airport tenants.

Airport staff said designing and developing a new general aviation facility could take anywhere from three to five years. The process of deciding on a new location is currently underway. The Long Beach City Council approved extending Million Air North’s lease for five years, however, with a clause allowing for a 180-day termination due to the uncertain timeframe of finding a new location.

“We cannot move forward with any development until we first handle all the needs of the general aviation community,” said J.C. Squires, the airport’s manager of finance and administration, during the city council meeting. “This letter was put in to ensure this council and the community that general aviation will have a home and be well cared for before any future development is considered.”

In the city council agenda item, Airport Director Mario Rodriguez stated that the airport will design and develop a new general aviation facility that will “benefit all stakeholders and provide a significant upgrade in amenities for the General Aviation Community.”

The new general aviation facility is to be developed as the airport conducts a two-year airfield geometry study that was launched in March to analyze the safety, operational and financial benefits of reconfiguring the 1,166-acre airfield, known as Daugherty Field. The study may look into the possibility of shortening or closing two north-south runways. The airport is also conducting a strategic business plan.

Kevin McAchren, president of Airserv and secretary of the Long Beach Airport Association, said it’s imperative to relocate the tie-downs and hangars to an ideal location, with reasonable pricing, for general aviation to prosper in the future. He said the airport has already lost general aviation users mainly due to the recession.

“We do not want to drive any more general aviation off the airport,” he said. “Our goal is not to lose another tie-down or hangar spot for general aviation, and to be able to develop on other areas in the airport where we could have a thriving general aviation community again.”