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Airline Wins Permit to Use Imperial Terminal : Decision Considered Blow to Residents Despite Noise-Reduction Conditions

February 07, 1988|TIM WATERS | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners has voted unanimously to allow MGM Grand Air to fly regularly scheduled flights out of Los Angeles International Airport's Imperial Terminal.

The board's decision last week was a blow to El Segundo and Westchester residents who have fought for years to restrict airline operations at the terminal, which is across Imperial Highway from El Segundo's northern boundary.

Even though MGM will be required to abide by 10 conditions aimed at reducing aircraft noise for residents living near the terminal, El Segundo Councilman Carl Jacobson complained that commissioners did not discuss adequately the other conditions that the city believes are necessary.

"They didn't even consider half of what we brought up," Jacobson said after the vote was taken. "To me, that is not being very responsive."

More Conciliatory

Danna Cope, a deputy to Los Angeles City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, who represents Westchester, was more conciliatory toward the commissioners.

Galanter, in a letter to the board, had unsuccessfully urged that MGM be forced to use quieter jets and to soundproof more than 80 El Segundo homes that will be most affected by increased jet noise.

"Of course, (the commissioners) could have done more," Cope said. "They could have done a lot less."

MGM, a Los Angeles-to-New York airline, aims its service at affluent travelers and business executives, charging customers $828 for a one-way trip. The airline has been operating at the terminal as a so-called "itinerant" airline since September, pending approval of its environmental impact report. That report, as well as a one-year operating permit, was approved last Wednesday. The permit will be reviewed in a year.

Commissioners commended MGM for its willingness to abide by measures to minimize aircraft noise at the terminal, which the airport has long maintained it needs to use because of a scarcity of space elsewhere. Mark Nathanson, MGM Grand vice chairman, told board members the airline has "gone every step of the way" to meet the operating requirements imposed upon it.

'Done Everything'

"We have done everything we have been asked to do," Nathanson said.

Also during the meeting, commissioners Johnnie Cochran Jr. and Robert Chick referred to statements made more than a year ago by El Segundo Mayor Jack Siadek to commissioners that the City Council favored MGM's plan to use the terminal.

Although the other council members say they never favored the plan, Siadek has defended his statements as accurate at the time. He said that he, too, later opposed the plan when he learned that MGM would not be using quieter aircraft.

"I am concerned about those citizens of El Segundo who were misrepresented or had their views poorly" conveyed to the board, Chick said.

But both Chick and Cochran supported the airline.

Under the noise-mitigation measures approved by commissioners, MGM will be limited to five takeoffs and five landings a day at the terminal with the Boeing 727-100s it now operates. If the airline uses quieter aircraft, the number of flights will not be limited.

MGM pilots must also request permission from the control tower to use "inboard" runways--those farthest from residential areas--on departure and avoid turns that take planes over populated areas. The airline is also forbidden to use helicopters at the terminal.

Additionally, the airline must reduce the noise caused by mobile generators used to supply power to aircraft while they are on the ground, and install a telephone line to receive noise complaints.

El Segundo officials had asked commissioners to require the airline to vacate the terminal no later than Dec. 31, 1990, at which time it would be moved to one of the airport's main terminals. Also, the city requested that a number of restrictions be placed on the airline as to when it could perform maintenance work on aircraft.

The airline disclosed last week that it had grounded two of its three jets for up to a month because of incomplete maintenance records. MGM Grand President Chuck Demoney described the groundings as a temporary setback.

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