Forest Hills, N.Y.-based JetBlue Airways Corp., which recently announced plans to begin service from Los Angeles International Airport, won't be the only airline coming to LAX in the next few months.


Alitalia Airlines announced it will offer roundtrip, nonstop flights between Los Angeles and Rome beginning June 1, six years after it left the Southern California market.

The announcement, along with other flights being added at the airport, is being celebrated by city leaders. But each additional flight at LAX detracts from the effort to regionalize Southern California air traffic, said Jack Keady, an aviation consultant based in Playa del Rey.

"LAX is in a dilemma: It must provide service for the passengers who live close to it, but it must drive regionalization," he said.

The airport served more than 60 million passengers in 2006 and city leaders have pledged to cap the total number of passengers at 78 million.

Alitalia pulled out of Los Angeles after international travel began declining in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

"The reopening of the Los Angeles gateway with service to Rome reflects Alitalia's return to its traditional mission as a carrier that serves Italy," said Thierry Aucoc, Alitalia's senior vice president for North America, in a statement.

Alitalia is one of five airlines planning on adding or increasing international service from LAX in the next year.

In addition, Virgin America, which was launched in August, has submitted an application with the Department of Transportation to offer service between Los Angeles and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, its first international destination.

International carriers are not the only airlines adding L.A. service. AirTran Airways said it will provide nonstop flights between LAX and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport starting in May.

Electric Investment

Miles Electric Vehicles, an electric car manufacturer in Santa Monica, announced it has received $15 million in funding, led by Angeleno Group, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm.

Miles said it will use the funds in part to develop the Miles XS500, an electrically powered sedan the company said will have a range of 120 miles and a top speed of more than 80 miles per hour.

The company currently produces a line of low-speed electric vehicles for fleets and private use. Miles has helped make fleet vehicles for customers including UCLA and NASA.

This marks the first institutional investment in the company, which was founded in 2005 by entrepreneur Miles Rubin.

Trucker Complaints

Many motor carriers cheered when the Port of Long Beach approved its monumental $2.2 billion truck replacement program, which will not require the companies to hire more expensive employee drivers.

But not every sector of the trucking industry is satisfied with the proposal.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents more than 161,000 independent contract drivers, wrote a letter to Long Beach Harbor Commission President Mario Cordero expressing "serious concerns" with the port's proposed concessionaire program.

Under the proposal, all motor carriers will be required to apply for and receive a concession to continue working in the harbor. The port will give preference to companies that operate frequently there, and all concessionaires will be required to purchase new cleaner trucks and pay an annual fee, among other requirements.

The independent driver group said the program will be onerous for the long-haul drivers who call at the port, many just a few times each year. The association also argued that those drivers who carry freight thousands of miles away should not incur all the new costs of the far-reaching program.

In response to the group's complaint, Long Beach spokesman Art Wong said the commissioners will consider changes to the program that will accommodate the drivers, including a "day pass" that would give access to the port without requiring a costly truck upgrade.

Hot Property

San Francisco-based AMB Property Corp. recently announced it has fully leased a 199,000-square-foot South Bay warehouse and distribution facility, signaling increasing demand for port-adjacent property.

The AMB Clipper Distribution Center was leased to Carson-based USC Intermodal Services Inc.

"We anticipate even further demand for our port-related in-fill properties in Los Angeles with implementation of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach's Clean Trucks Program," said Kim Snyder, AMB managing director, in a statement.

Since the truck replacement program is expected to increase transportation costs 50 percent or more, Snyder said distribution centers near the port, which can reduce transportation time and costs, will become more important in the coming years.

Staff reporter Richard Clough can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 251, or at rclough@labusinessjournal.com .

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