Change Your Altitude

JetBlue on Verge of International Flights from Long Beach Hub

JetBlue only bases their Airbus A320 fleet out of Long Beach Airport.

JetBlue only bases their Airbus A320 fleet out of Long Beach Airport.

So here we go – more good news and expansion from the folks over at JetBlue (B6). And a potential game changer for Long Beach Airport (LGB).

JetBlue seems to be investing in the idea of international operations from the as yet fully domestic Long Beach Airport. The airline has funded a study to investigate the logistics of the costs involved of getting LGB up to the standard of an international grade airport – which involves installing IT systems and staffing an immigration and customs operation and the actual physical cost of the renovation of the infrastructure that would be required. It’s also a logistical issue, of where the new facilities will go and how best they’d be laid out.

It’s important to note that while JetBlue might out some of their own money into this initiative, there will also need to be funding that will of course fall on the hands of the local government of Long Beach County and California. As such, a public and government approval process will need to take place.

While there is some pushback from residents of the city, especially those in communities that fall under the flight path of LGB, overall the project has good support given the economic and employment opportunities an international airport can bring to a city.

The standard all coach cabin of the JetBlue A320s that fly out of Long Beach

The standard all coach cabin of the JetBlue A320s that fly out of Long Beach

And we can’t stress enough – LGB would make an excellent alternative to the congested often painful LAX experience, especially for short hops over to Mexico or Central America – and when JetBlue is the airline you’d end up being on, well that’s the icing on the cake.

Based on Long Beach’s competitive position in Southern California, coupled with historic demand and economic benefits, the study found a customs facility would “provide opportunity for a share of the markets” without violating the city’s strict noise ordinance.

The city attorney’s office also weighed in with a legal analysis, saying it was highly unlikely that the city’s noice ordinance would be jeopardized by the addition of a customs facility.

Regarding costs, the interview had this to say:

The study said creation of the customs facility has a price tag of between $13 million and $16.3 million. Airport officials said the cost could be closer to $17 million to $21 million. JetBlue would pay for much of the costs.

So there you have it – international operations from Long Beach is more a matter of when rather than if. If the study concluded that international ops from the airport is a viable thing and if a profit maximizing entity such as JetBlue deems it worth their while to invest in this idea, we see no reason why this venture shouldn’t move forward. We reiterate – it is the perfect alternate to LAX, especially for those living down the 405 and further south in Orange County – your quick commute to board your flight to Cabo for the weekend just got cut in half if LGB does commence international operations.

It’s also the most logical next step for JetBlue’s third biggest hub behind their home at New York JFK and Fort Lauderdale, Florida – both of which have significant (JFK especially) international operations. Also keep in mind that the airline would most likely have a monopoly on international flights from LGB. 

It’s important to note that JetBlue, if they do go international from LGB, will most likely be operating only short haul flights to Mexico and perhaps a bit further south or possibly (not likely) to their Caribbean strongholds such as Nassau in the Bahamas and Bridgetown in Barbados, but we’re thinking that you’re still going to have to endure the 405 and trudge all the way to LAX for any long haul travel.

But hey, never say never. There’ll be a city hearing on November 15 where we’ll see what direction this ambitious project goes, but we like what we’re hearing so far.

Think you’d ever use Long Beach Airport for international travel if it ever were to become an international facility? 



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