BURBANK — In a move that could further inflame passions over airplane noise, Burbank Airport's governing board Tuesday is expected to allow Reno Air to begin 6:40 a.m. departures.
Although several other airlines already fly out of Burbank as early as 6:30 a.m., local residents who have long objected to the noise view any additional early morning flights as trouble. Many residents and the three Burbank representatives on the nine-member Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority for years have pushed for a mandatory curfew and limits on the number of flights at the airport.
But airport administrators support the proposal by Reno Air, which plans four daily flights from Burbank to its San Jose hub, with continued service to Seattle, Anchorage, Reno and Portland, Ore.
The 6:40 a.m. flight "is a business decision that Reno Air has made," said Sean McCarthy, an airport spokesman. "We hope to work with [the airline] to the extent we can to see what can be done to meet the community's expectation for noise."
The airport does not have a curfew, but guidelines call for commercial airlines to keep the bulk of their flights between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Charles Lombardo, a Burbank representative on the airport authority, said more morning flights would only increase antagonism between the city and the airport. Local residents already expect a crush of flights when a proposed replacement passenger terminal is built.
"We on the authority are under a mandate to make the best efforts available to further mitigate and reduce noise," Lombardo said. "Having more planes violating the [voluntary] curfew is not a step in that direction, and I hope Glendale and Pasadena recognize that."
Airport officials said Reno Air flights would depart at 6:40 a.m., 10:35 a.m., 3 p.m. and 5:50 p.m. There would be no early morning departures Sundays, officials said.
"The history of Burbank Airport speaks for itself," McCarthy said. "It's a commuter airport."
The state Department of Transportation in July renewed a variance allowing the airport to continue operating without meeting all state noise control ordinances. Most of the major commercial airports in the state operate under such permits, which must be renewed every three years.
Administrative Law Judge Samuel Reyes noted in his decision that the airport had acted in good faith but had not taken "good faith measures to the best of its ability" to achieve the noise standards.
McCarthy would not comment on the variance or whether Tuesday's vote might make it more difficult to meet the state standards.
Though an authority vote in favor of the Reno Air proposal might appear relatively minor to some observers, it stands to make ongoing tensions worse, Lombardo said. For the last few years, the city of Burbank and airport administrators have waged an expensive court battle over a proposed 19-gate passenger terminal planned for 130 acres owned by Lockheed Martin Corp.
Airport officials maintain a new terminal is needed to accommodate the nearly 5 million travelers who use the airport each year.
In February, Superior Court Judge Carl J. West ruled Burbank could not use local land-use ordinances to block terminal construction because the city had relinquished those powers by setting up a joint-powers authority with Glendale and Pasadena to run the airport.
The city went back to court in May, contending the airport authority violated Burbank zoning codes by planning to build the terminal on land zoned for manufacturing uses without consulting city leaders.
The city last week won two small victories. A Ventura County judge refused to dismiss the city's land-use case, which could be decided later this year.
Also, the state Supreme Court refused to overturn an appellate court ruling upholding a 10% city tax levied on airport parking revenues.