Palmdale Spending $835,000 to Prepare for United

The money for L.A./Palmdale Regional Airport will help pay for repairs to the aircraft ramp, for upgrades to interior terminal lighting and alarm systems to maintain Transportation Security Administration security levels, and for police staffing to do...


PALMDALE -- Los Angeles airport commissioners Monday approved spending $835,000 for upgrades and staffing at the Palmdale airport in preparation for United Airlines starting service in June.

The money for L.A./Palmdale Regional Airport will help pay for repairs to the aircraft ramp, for upgrades to interior terminal lighting and alarm systems to maintain Transportation Security Administration security levels, and for police staffing to do screening.

``It's full-speed ahead, planning and working toward the reopening of the airport for scheduled jet airline service,'' Los Angeles World Airports Deputy Executive Director Paul Haney said. ``L.A./Palmdale is an important part of meeting the regional demands for air service in the 21st century.''

Beginning June 7, United Airlines will offer two departing flights daily from Palmdale to San Francisco aboard 50-seat Bombardier CRJ-200 aircraft.

The schedule will allow for connecting flights to about 60 destinations offered either by United or its Star Alliance partners.

LAWA's Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the allocation, which includes $414,000 for salaries, $280,000 for materials and supplies and $70,000 for equipment, according to a staff report.

Personnel costs include workers for construction and maintenance services to maintain the terminal, ramp and other facilities, and airfield operations staffers to coordinate the needs of the airlines and act as a contact with the U.S. Air Force regarding commercial passenger operations.

L.A./Palmdale Regional Airport consists of a terminal building and parking lot located at Air Force Plant 42. Under an agreement with the Air Force, Plant 42 can be used by civilian airliners for as many as 50 flights a day, and there are provisions to expand to 400 a flights a day.

Palmdale lost its only airline in January 2006 when Scenic Airlines pulled out, saying it wasn't carrying enough passengers to make money on its flights to and from North Las Vegas.

Scenic, which operated 19-passenger turboprop aircraft out of Palmdale for just over a year, was the first airline in the Antelope Valley in nearly seven years.

Commuter airlines United Express, America West and SkyWest operated between the Palmdale terminal and Los Angeles International Airport in the 1990s -- sometimes two airlines at a time. All pulled out after failing to generate profits with their Palmdale operations. The last pulled out in 1998.

Supporters of the airport are hoping to convince travelers that L.A./Palmdale Regional Airport is a better alternative than LAX because there are no parking fees and no 405 Freeway driving hassles.

United's inaugural Palmdale service is being aided by an incentive package worth about $4.6 million that includes $2 million from the city of Palmdale, with $900,000 from a federal grant, to underwrite any losses the airline incurs.

The revenue-guarantee agreement does not set fares. However, there is a statement that fares ``shall not vary significantly in price levels or terms and conditions'' from those offered for routes of similar distance and in similar-size markets.

The airline and the city have set a goal of generating $4.4 million with the new service.



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