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Reno Air Agrees to 7 a.m. Takeoff at Burbank Airport

September 29, 1998|ANDREW BLANKSTEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Saying it wants to "be a good neighbor" to Burbank residents, Reno Air announced Monday that it is dropping plans for a 6:40 a.m. flight, delaying the takeoff until 7 a.m. to observe Burbank Airport's voluntary noise restrictions.

Reno Air had asked the nine-member Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority last week to approve the early morning flights to better compete against airlines traveling to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.

But the Nevada-based carrier quickly backtracked after dozens of local residents vowed that there would be a strong backlash against any attempt to break the airport's voluntary 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew.

Airport noise is a volatile political issue in Burbank, and the city has been waging a running fight with the airport in the courts for years.

Reno Air will launch service Thursday from Burbank to its San Jose hub after Monday's 4-3 approval vote by the airport authority. The flights will take off at 7 a.m., 10:35 a.m., 3 p.m. and 5:50 p.m., airline executives said.

John Albrecht, Reno Air's director of airport affairs, said the airline did not want to appear insensitive to the noise complaints. But he had harsh words for the voluntary curfew, which allows some airlines to continue early departures while others have been pressured out of them.

"I'll gladly work with a system that's voluntary," Albrecht said, adding that Reno Air had done nothing to violate federal noise laws. But, he added, "It's a disturbance to the airlines and the [residents] who live around the airport" not to have mandatory requirements that apply to all.

Three airlines--United, America West and Alaska--now schedule flights for departure between 6:30 and 6:40 a.m. Citizen groups have not yet targeted them for protests.

Airport administrators insist that none of the early departures violate current noise standards and that there are fewer early-morning flights now than in past years.

They also said that John Wayne Airport in Orange County and Lindbergh Field in San Diego have dozens of similar early-morning flights.

Pasadena Mayor Chris Holden, one of his city's three representatives on the airport authority, urged the panel to do a better job of ensuring that airlines with pre-7 a.m. flights understand the noise impact on the surrounding community.

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