After 10 months and several delays, the Jacobs Engineering Group’s 697-page study to determine if a federal inspections facility (FIS) would be beneficial and appropriate for Long Beach Airport (LGB) was released by the city on October 4.
A key area of focus for Jacobs was LGB’s Noise Compatibility Ordinance and flight slot restrictions. At current levels, LGB has 50 daily air carrier slots and 25 daily commuter slots. According to the study, in 2015, LGB air carriers only utilized 74% of available slots and were well within the levels of compliance with the airport’s noise ordinance.
The study also noted that the ordinance does not “provide limits for origination or destination airport for aircraft operating to or from LGB,” nor does it specify whether these flights are to be domestic or international.
The study examined seven key areas:
Market Demand – “The Study concludes it is not predicted that having a FIS Facility will reduce domestic flight activity. The Market Analysis forecasted that demand for international flights, under the Airport’s existing slot regime, would result in approximately 379,281 annual FIS arriving passengers in Year Four following a three year ramp up period. International service would account for 12% or 6 of 50 flights in the first year and increasing to 16% or 8 of 50 flights by Year Four. These passengers would be new activity for LGB.”
Environmental Compliance Assessment – “The assessment concluded that the FIS Facility could be accommodated within the impact envelope contemplated in the 2006 Terminal Area Improvement Project Final Environmental Impact Report No. 37-03 (State Clearinghouse No. 2003091112).”
Economic Impact of Long Beach Airport – “The potential annual economic contribution of an FIS Facility is approximately 350 jobs and $36.4 million of additional output. The potential additional economic expenditures from international travelers is estimated to range between $57 million to $104 million during the five year establishment period following initiation of international service. The international business and tourist travel impacts are estimated to generate approximately 1,400 jobs and $185.6 million annually following the establishment period. Construction of the FIS Facility would generate financial output valued between $31 million and $38 million . . . generating between 203 and 253 jobs.”
Facility Concepts – “An FIS Facility is a single processing complex that evolved from the consolidation and integration of U.S. customs, immigration, and agriculture operations, offices, and support functions. An FIS Facility includes a CBP security area to accommodate international air commerce designated for processing passengers, crew, baggage and effects arriving from, or departing to, foreign countries, as well as aircraft deplaning, ramp areas, and other restricted areas.”
Airport Scope and Capability – “Critical components of airside and landside infrastructure at LGB have been identified to support potential international flights. The runway and taxiway systems can support the probable fleet mix to fly to international destinations determined in the Market Analysis.”
Financial Feasibility – “By reviewing LGB’s funding capacity and the projected demand for the potential FIS Facility, a financing plan was developed that included $3 million of Airport Passenger Facility Charge funding with the balance of the capital costs funded directly by JetBlue Airways as the primary user of the facility. The resulting FIS Facility charge required to cover the amortization of the net capital investment would be approximately $13 per FIS arriving passenger in 2020 (reflecting start-up costs) and then approximately $6 per FIS arriving passenger for the next ten years. The potential FIS Facility would be financially feasible as this fee level is in the range of FIS charges at comparable California airports.”
Security Risk Assessment – “The addition of international flights and construction of an FIS Facility does not negatively impact the risks to LGB and the Long Beach community compared with current risks from other Ports of Entry in the area.”
Texas-based Jacobs hosted two community meetings to receive comments from the public. The first meeting was attended by 108 residents, and the second was attended by 152. An e-mail account was also set up for the company to collect community comments electronically throughout the duration of the study.
Jacobs was awarded the nearly $350,000 contract by the city in January to conduct the study. Initially, the study was expected to be completed in July but was delayed. It was then estimated to be completed in mid-September but was delayed once again.
A second analysis by the city attorney examined possible effects of an FIS facility on the noise ordinance and found that it would not jeopardize the current regulations.
The feasibility study, city attorney analysis and time for public comment will be included in the Thursday, October 20, Airport Advisory Commission (AAC) and the Tuesday, October 25, Economic Development Commission (EDC) agendas. The AAC meeting is scheduled at the Long Beach Gas & Oil Auditorium at 2400 E. Spring St. at 6:30 p.m., and the EDC meeting is scheduled in the City Council Chambers at 333 W. Ocean Blvd. at 4 p.m. with the study session to be addressed at 6 p.m.
The city council is tentatively scheduled to receive the presentation and public input on November 15. For more information and to view the feasibility study in its entirety, visit lgb.org/information/fis_feasibility_study/default.asp.