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The Plane Truth at Long Beach Airport

April 06, 2002

Re "Airlines Fight for Space at Long Beach Airport," April 2: As an air traffic controller at Long Beach Airport, I was stunned to discover your reporters twice describing the airport as "tiny." In 2001, Long Beach Airport was ranked 30th in the country in total air traffic with more than 737,000 operations, which turns out to be more traffic than some of the other "tiny" airports, such as Honolulu International and JFK. Tiny Long Beach has five runways, one a 10,000-foot runway (longer than any runway at Orange County, Burbank or Van Nuys) that handles the heavy cargo jets of the UPS, FedEx and Airborne Express facilities based here.

Tiny Long Beach is a major aircraft manufacturing facility, the home of every Air Force C-17 ever built. The former McDonnell Douglas factory, now owned by Boeing, is still building the C-17 and is still delivering the new B-717 passenger jet. The Boeing facility is the largest employer in the city of Long Beach.

The tiny airport houses major West Coast maintenance facilities for Gulfstream and Cessna Citation business jets. Tiny Long Beach is a favorite destination for dozens of private jets that load and offload big league sports teams and movie stars at two, huge fixed-base operators.

Tiny Long Beach Airport is home to over 500 general aviation aircraft and the dozens of businesses that support and maintain them. Tiny it ain't.

Paul Thomas

Long Beach

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