Fees Hiked for LAX's International Terminal

Another round of Los Angeles International Airport fee increases won approval Monday, this one affecting the more than two dozen carriers that use LAX's Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Starting April 1, after their current lease agreements expire, 28 airlines will pay higher rent and maintenance fees, the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners decided unanimously.

The vote came without discussion, and no one spoke publicly Monday against the decision, which follows a similar, highly controversial rent and fee increase at LAX's Terminals 1 and 3.

Laxtec Corp., the nonprofit group that represents carriers in the Bradley terminal, declined to comment on Monday's vote. However, the group, anticipating the increase, filed a complaint last month with the federal Department of Transportation.

Carriers using the Bradley terminal will pay an annual base rate of $27.59 per square foot, up from $23.50. In 2005, the airlines paid $19.35 per square foot.

Los Angeles World Airports, the agency that operates LAX, will generate an additional $42 million per year from the increase, officials said in a staff report.

The money will pay for terminal maintenance and operating costs that, until now, have been paid for by the airport agency, according to the board. The hike also will help the agency to better manage terminal gates and space, officials said.

Until now, the carriers have not been charged for common areas in the terminals, only for their exclusive spaces, according to the staff report. That will change under the new leases.

The airport agency invited representatives of the Bradley terminal carriers to discuss and negotiate changes to their leases, according to the staff report. But no agreement had been reached before Monday's vote.

Late last year, the board nearly quadrupled rents and other fees for low-cost carriers in Terminals 1 and 3, from $76 million over five years to $292.8 million, according to the carriers.

Those increases, which took effect Feb. 1, prompted some carriers to file a complaint with the Department of Transportation.

Separately, three airlines -- United, American and Continental -- sued the city of Los Angeles in federal court several weeks ago, saying that the board improperly doubled terminal maintenance fees and violated long-term leases they signed in the 1980s.

The city airport agency said the increase was needed to pay for higher security costs incurred since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to upgrade systems and terminals at the aging airport.

The city's airports are funded primarily from proceeds of landing and terminal fees paid by airlines and by revenue from airport shops, restaurants and parking.

Last week, in response to the increased fees at Terminals 1 and 3, the Air Transport Assn., a lobbying group that represents 90% of the nation's passenger and cargo carriers, petitioned the Department of Transportation to intervene in the case.

But the Airports Council International, a trade group representing airports, last week intervened in support of the city, said Paul Haney, Los Angeles World Airports' deputy executive director of airports and security.

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