Marine Colonel: Calif. Airport Board Reaching Beyond its Authority

A regional Marine official charged Monday that the airport authority reached beyond the scope of its purpose in choosing to examine military bases as potential sites for an international airport.

Laura Thornton, community plans and liaison officer at Miramar, said Miramar annually handles 79,000 takeoffs and landings by airplanes and 32,000 arrivals and departures by helicopters.

Over at Lindbergh Field, the nation's busiest one-runway commercial airport, 220,000 takeoffs and landings are logged each year, Lucero said.

The number of passengers that pass through Lindbergh's gates reached 17.4 million last year, up 6.1 percent from 16.4 million in 2004, Lucero said. That was on top of 7.3 percent growth the year before, she said. Both increases substantially exceeded the authority's long-term forecasts built on the assumption of annual growth of 2.2 percent to 2.8 percent.

Liston said the authority, in his opinion, has failed to make the case that Lindbergh is running out of room and cannot handle the region's air travel needs long into the future.

Referring to the growth of the last two years, Lucero said, "I don't know how you could make a stronger case."

Other candidate sites include Campo, Borrego Springs, Imperial County, March Air Reserve Base near Riverside and Lindbergh Field, assuming a major expansion. The authority estimates it would cost $5 billion to $10 billion to build a new airport with two parallel runways.

Contact Dave Downey at (760) 740-5442 or To comment, visit

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