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Almanac

John Wayne Airport : It's a Story of Growth--and Growing Pains

November 29, 1987

Orange County's growth has both boosted and bedeviled John Wayne Airport. The one-time World War II Army Air Corps base, which witnessed its first regularly scheduled airline flight 25 years ago, now is served by 11 airlines and about 89 daily departures. Passenger traffic is approaching five million persons annually, compared with about two million 10 years ago. In addition, John Wayne is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the country. Total takeoffs and landings last year were 552,744, or slightly more than one every minute. Yet as traffic has grown, so has opposition to that growth by the airport's neighbors, who have complained--and, in some cases, sued--over aircraft noise. Passengers handled by the overcrowded, 20-year-old terminal building are limited by the county Board of Supervisors, with an increase to 8.4 million passengers per year scheduled when a new terminal opens. Construction is scheduled to begin on the new building in the spring, with completion set for April, 1990. The new building will have 14 boarding gates and 337,900 square feet--more than 10 times the size of the current terminal. But even the new building will not meet passenger demand, if county estimates are correct. The county has forecast a market of close to 11 million passengers annually in 1990, and 22 million by 2005. So the struggle over John Wayne Airport's growth promises to continue.

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