June 7, 2007

The cost to run Los Angeles International Airport will approach $525 million in the coming fiscal year -- not including a few huge projects that will add hundreds of millions more to the bottom line.

The airport will more than pay for itself with ticket and flight fees, building leases, concessions and other revenues that add up to more than $583 million. But the budget approved Monday by airport commissioners shows that costs are rising faster than revenues at Los Angeles airports.

In all, that budget comes to more than $2.46 billion -- most of which is locked away in reserve funds or dedicated to special projects. What's left is the operating budget -- the money that pays for the day-to-day operations of LAX and the city's smaller airports in Ontario, Palmdale and Van Nuys.

Airport officials expect those costs to rise about 9.3 percent over last year, to just over $633 million for all four airports combined. They attributed the increase, in part, to a growing payroll, the reopening of the small airport in Palmdale and the ongoing cost of planning the future of LAX.

They expect the revenue brought in by the four airports to increase about 8.5 percent -- up to $691.4 million. The budget anticipates big gains in parking and rental-car revenue, advertising and airline fees.

But the combined costs of two big projects at LAX dwarf the operating budgets of the four airports. Those projects will streamline and improve baggage handling at the airport and overhaul the main international terminal.

The two projects have already begun and are expected to cost around $945 million in all.

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