Long Beach Airport
Long Beach Airport is a relatively small airport located north of downtown Long Beach, California. It handles approximately 1.5 million passengers per year, but contains no modern passenger gates. It is eclipsed in terms of commercial traffic by nearby Los Angeles International, Ontario International, John Wayne, and Burbank airports. The development and growth of the airport has been restricted by local communities worried about the noise and traffic that a larger airport would bring to the area. Despite these factors, Long Beach Airport is home to a variety of corporate aircraft, maintenance facilities, and civil aviation.
History of the Long Beach Airport
Long Beach Airport is one of the oldest aircraft facilities in Southern California. The area that now makes up the airport was originally used for flight schools and stunt grounds in the 1910s and 1920s. By 1923, the city council was convinced to construct an airport, which was then known as the Long Beach Municipal Airport. Due to the facility’s inability to grow with increased traffic demands, airline operations out of Long Beach were never large. Several major airlines provided limited flights to destinations along the West Coast for decades, but most airlines pulled their services from the airport in the early 1990s. Long Beach Airport still hosts limited flights operated through low-cost carriers, but the airport has never serviced levels of traffic that match the population of the surrounding areas.
Long Beach Airport has a long and tumultuous history with the U.S. military. Beginning in 1928, the Navy and city built administrative facilities, hangars, and a training school in support of Naval Air Reserve Long Beach. As passenger traffic grew through the 1930s, city officials became openly hostile towards the presence of the Navy, hoping they could free up space for growth in the airport’s commercial operations. This was complicated by the fact that Douglas Aircraft was also a resident of the airport at the time. Resistance by the city forced Naval officials to plan for an alternate site, which lead to the construction of Naval Air Station Los Alamitos. Long Beach Airport saw some military operations through World War II, but the Navy officially abandoned the airport at the end of the war.
Long Beach Airport’s main terminal is considered a historic landmark by the City of Long Beach. It was built in the Art Deco style in 1941, and it hasn’t changed much since its original construction. The terminal has been upgraded with modern security and computer systems, but passengers still need to walk outside and climb stairways to board aircraft. Despite Long Beach Airport’s old-fashioned commercial service, civil aviation is popular. The airport has four runways that are suitable for a variety of small aircraft. These runways are surrounded by maintenance facilities, flight schools, private hangars, blimp facilities, helicopter facilities, and cargo carriers. In terms of pure traffic, Long Beach Airport is considered one of the busiest aviation airports worldwide.
Transportation at the Airport
Los Angeles and the surrounding metro areas are not known for having good public transportation, and Long Beach Airport is not an exception. The public terminal is serviced by three different Long Beach Transit bus lines: 102, 104 and 111. None of these lines go much further than a few miles from the terminal. The main method of ground transportation for passengers is by car. The airport has several long-term parking lots located nearby, and there is a short-term lot located directly across the street from the terminal.
Airlines Serving Long Beach Airport
New York-based Jet Blue Airways uses Long Beach Airport as a focus city for its operations. In reality, the airport acts as a fortress hub for the airline, since nearly 80 percent of passengers flying to or from Long Beach use Jet Blue. In the 12 months between December 2010, and November 2011, Jet Blue was responsible for carrying 2,375,000 passengers using Long Beach Airport. This figure represents a difference of more than two million passengers when compared to the next most popular airline at Long Beach. The airline has been responsible for a major increase in overall traffic at the airport, as well. Thanks to its immense popularity, Jet Blue has been made the sole occupant of the South Concourse at Long Beach Airport.
Passengers who fly from Long Beach Airport using Jet Blue Airlines can travel to a wide range of domestic destinations. Throughout the year, passengers can fly to Austin, Boston, Las Vegas, New York JFK, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Washington Dulles and more using the popular airline. Jet Blue also offers seasonal service to Anchorage, Alaska. Jet Blue is also the sole provider of seven of the top ten most popular routes from Long Beach.
Although Jet Blue dominates operations at Long Beach Airport, other airlines maintain significant presences. Delta Air Lines provides service to Salt Lake City, Utah, which is the most popular destination for passengers flying from Long Beach Airport. Of the 194,000 passengers who fly to Salt Lake City every year, Delta handles a large percentage of them through its mainline service, as well as through its popular Delta Connection program. Delta Connection flights that depart from Long Beach are operated by SkyWest Airlines.
US Airways operates non-stop flights from Long Beach, California to Phoenix, Arizona on a regular basis. The company’s mainline service provides these flights, but passengers can also use the US Airways Express program to reach the Arizona capital. US Airways Express Flights are operated by Mesa Airlines. The US Airways route from Long Beach Airport to Phoenix serves approximately 93,000 passengers each year. This makes it the seventh most popular route from Long Beach Airport.
Many passengers choose to fly from Long Beach Airport to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. A significant percentage of them choose to fly using Alaska Airlines. The carrier offers non-stop flights from Long Beach to Portland, Oregon, and Seattle/Tacoma, Washington. These flights are operated by SkyWest Airlines.