San Bernardino Gets in Position

Airport readies itself to handle corporate aviation, begin air carrier service

The complex is part new, part rebuild of a former Air Force terminal, explains Ingraham. “What we did here is lease the building to a developer, similar to a design/build operation,” he says. “We had to use the old building in order to meet a time schedule. We wanted to have all this done this year — 18 months ago this was an idea.

“As tough as the California environmental process is, you could not have done it if you weren’t remodeling a building. So, that’s the biggest part of the project.”

To accommodate corporates, the airport authority recently approved an initial proposal to build a $9 million hangar for corporate jets. The hangar rests on a nine-acre parcel, which reportedly will be built by private dollars, purchased back by the airport, and then leased. The airport plans to invest some $3.5 million for associated infrastructure.

To attract commercial airline service, the airport authority has a marketing department. Despite today’s harsh airline service development climate, Ingraham says he’s optimistic of attracting San Bernardino’s first commercial service.

“It’s going well,” he says. “We have people who are more than interested, and we’re talking of potentially having air service by the end of the year. Right now, if the parties that we’re talking with come through, we’re not on the street soliciting additional air service. We’re going to try to make that work.

“Everything says that there is a market here. It’s more leakage than competition [with other apts]. There’s sufficient unspent demand in this basin, according to our studies and others, even LAWA [Los Angeles World Airports] studies. We believe it’s here; we have a population of a million or so within a small radius. It’s more of a matter of when, not if.

Initially, Ingraham envisions five departures a day, but prefers not to discuss the destinations. The airport purchased used baggage handling systems and eleven boarding bridges, which are undergoing refurbishment. The Transportation Security Administration is also on board with the progress of the airport’s air service efforts.

Comments Ingraham, They’re involved; they look at this probably every couple of weeks. We’re working through all the regulatory and logistics issues. They have an individual who has been assigned to kind of watchdog us.”

In June the airport issued a request for proposals for a concessionaire for the passenger terminal. “There is interest,” says Ingraham. “We have a couple of companies that have expressed what it takes to make this work. Not having an airport with established air service, it’s very difficult to negotiate terms. We don’t want somebody to fail; and we don’t want to mislead them. I have one large company that worked with some concepts on how they would lay it out, which gives us a starting point.

“I feel very solid with where we are today. There are two potential airlines that are candidates. But I recognize the environment we’re working in; if it doesn’t work, we’ll be ready for the next opportunity.”

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