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Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023




Staff Reporter

In its first sign that it is open to compromise, the Burbank City Council has proposed a scaled-down expansion of Burbank Airport in return for a limit on the number of new flights.

The airport, which now has 14 gates, would be allowed up to 16 gates under the council proposal. The city also wants to limit the number of new flights to a 10 percent increase over 1996 levels.

The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority wants to demolish the existing 168,000 square foot terminal and build one of up to 465,000 square feet, which would allow up to 27 gates.

Airline officials immediately rejected the compromise proposal, saying it would not meet anticipated future demand for flights.

“We hoped that Burbank city officials would think the airport was important enough to grow to aid economic development in the (San Fernando) Valley,” said Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Linda Rutherford. “But their current proposal is not acceptable to Southwest Airlines because it does not provide the opportunity for that growth.”

Cliff Argue, vice president of properties and facilities for Alaska Airlines, one of Burbank Airport’s other major users, expressed similar sentiments.

“We’re quite concerned with Burbank’s approach to this. We don’t like to see any kind of artificial constraints on a major airport expansion project,” he said.

The airport is operated under a joint powers agreement between the cities of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena.

Burbank responding to resident concerns about increased jet noise has broken ranks with the other two cities in recent years to oppose expansion.

Burbank City Manager Bud Ovrom implied that Burbank will not yield in its latest proposal, which is being put forward “as a firm offer to bring this to a conclusion.”

Still, one Burbank official said privately that the latest proposal is not set in stone and could be the first in a series of offers in an attempt to break the logjam, which has Burbank fighting Glendale and Pasadena over the airport’s future direction.

“This is never black and white,” said the Burbank official. “The curfew is more important than the exact number of gates. We’d never go to 25 or 26 gates, but for a curfew we might go to more gates (than the 16 in the latest Burbank proposal).”

Currently all airlines operating at Burbank abide by a voluntary curfew on flights between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. The Burbank council proposal would make the curfew mandatory.

Airport spokesman Victor Gill said the Airport Authority is expected to consider the offer at this week’s meeting.

“This represents the first time the Burbank City Council as a body has made a statement like this, but it’s hard to know if it represents progress,” he said.

The existing terminal dates back to 1930 and is too close to the runways under current Federal Aviation Administration standards.

The proposed new terminal would be built on the east side of the airport’s main north-south runway, on land formerly occupied by the Lockheed Corp. “Skunk Works” used to develop the U-2, Stealth Fighter and other military aircraft.

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