Airport Expansion Plans Scrapped

A controversial plan to turn Hawthorne Airport into a commuter-traffic annex of L.A. International Airport was scratched last week, along with another of the four concepts that were being considered to expand LAX capacity.

The Board of Airport Commissioners is working on a master plan for the future of LAX that would allow it to accommodate an additional 40 million passengers a year and double the volume of air cargo shipments by the year 2015.

One of the four plans called for taking over Hawthorne Airport for LAX commuter planes and creating a dedicated roadway to shuttle passengers back and forth between the two airports. Airport officials determined the plan would have added 35 minutes to passengers' travel time, and deemed that an unacceptable delay.

The other scrapped concept called for construction of a new commuter runway that would have cut across Pershing Drive in Playa del Rey.

The two remaining proposals call for one or two commuter runways to be built in other locations, in addition to an automated people-mover system, a new airline terminal, and a "ring road" surrounding LAX linked to the regional traffic network.

The master plan is slated to be finalized this year and presented to the L.A. City Council and Federal Aviation Administration for approval.

Union, Hotels Reach Agreement

Local 11 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union has reached an agreement with six L.A. hotels guaranteeing employees higher wages and benefits and unprecedented levels of job security.

Under the new six-year contract which was agreed to by the Biltmore, Holiday Inn Convention Center, Hyatt on Sunset, Hyatt Regency, Omni and Sheraton Universal hotels workers will receive wage increases of as much as 36 percent. A housekeeper's hourly wage, for example, will increase from $8.15 to $11.05 over the life of the contract.

The contract also prevents the hotels from subcontracting out such services as restaurants and housekeeping to non-union employers, and guarantees job and contract security even if ownership of the hotel changes.

The agreement marks a significant shift from the last round of tourism contract negotiations in 1992 when the tourism industry was mired in recession and union and management engaged in a bitter dispute over extending health benefits to service workers.

Local 11 still is negotiating with eight other hotels. Its current contract expires April 16.

L.A. Gear Restructuring

Struggling athletic shoe company L.A. Gear Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week after reaching a restructuring agreement with bondholders.

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