SAN Update

In November 2006, a ballot initiative will go before voters here to decide the future of air transportation in the region — will the airport remain at Lindbergh Field or move to a new site. In the meantime, the San Diego Regional Airport Authority...


Forecasts which look out to 2030 detail both a high- and low-growth scenario for the airport. The low scenario, assuming a very slow recovery from the events of 9/11 and a 2.2 percent annual growth rate, show the airport at just over 27 million annual passengers in 2030. The high scenario, assuming a 2.8 percent growth rate averaged out over the years, shows the airport’s total passengers at 32 million in 2030. “We believe with the capacity constraints of the runway, we can probably accommodate no more than 24 million passengers annually at this facility today in its current runway configuration,” Shafer-Payne says. “We would simply need to provide a second runway to really get capacity anything above 24 million.” She adds that while at some airports 24 million passengers on a single runway may be feasible, “We have a departure curfew, and we really only have a 17-hour operating day.”

Rethinking Airfield Layout

Lindbergh Field’s lack of acreage and its location are among the reasons necessitating change for the region. According to Shafer-Payne, from a planning perspective, the airport authority believes that some incremental changes to the airfield are necessary. She explains that with aircraft operating from the north, particularly cargo carriers, some of the remaining overnight aircraft and corporates taxi to take off from Runway 27, resulting in a jet blast right into the general aviation facility.

“We didn’t feel that it was prudent to leave the general aviation facility in that location from a planning perspective. Our board agrees with that … we have a long-time tenant as the current operator for the general aviation facilities.

“I think from a planning perspective, the board feels comfortable and understands the reasons why, for safety and efficiency on the airfield, we need to relocate general aviation facilities, but what has not been decided is how those facilities will be operated and who will operate them.”

Site Selection

The airport authority is uncertain as to how the ballot will read in 2006. “The act that created us (independent airport authority) does give us some flexibility in terms of how the ballot language can be written,” Shafer-Payne says. “The act says that we should bring forward a site recommendation. But our attorneys have read that and have said, again, we have some latitude. So we are uncertain today as to how the language will be written. We do expect that the board will remove a number of sites and we will be down to a shorter list, if not down to just one site.”

Currently on the site selection program list there are nine prospective sites, five of which are military bases.

However, says Shafer-Payne, in November 2003, the authority board passed a resolution stating that the site selection team would not study any military installation until the completion of the base realignment and closure process.

“We have adhered to that and we will receive further direction from our board this November as how to proceed with the military sites,” she says.

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