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LAX Will Sell Ads to Defray Higher Costs of Security

The facility barred them for 42 years, viewing them as a distraction to passengers. Revenue of $31 million a year is projected.

October 16, 2002|Jennifer Oldham | Times Staff Writer

To offset mounting security costs and lost revenue from concession and parking fees following the terrorist attacks, officials plan to allow advertising at Los Angeles International Airport for the first time in the facility's 42-year history.

The city agency that operates the airport expects travelers to see advertisements hanging from terminal ceilings and affixed to concourse walls next summer. The program, patterned after successful campaigns at Las Vegas-McCarran International and other airports, is projected to raise about $31 million a year for the airport agency. The airport's total estimated revenue this year is $790 million.

LAX is the only major airport in the country without an advertising program. The world's fifth busiest airport hasn't allowed advertising because officials believed that the money raised wouldn't offset the inconvenience to travelers.

"Advertising was not needed to enhance airport design and was of no particular advantage to travelers," said William Schoenfeld, who worked at LAX from the mid-1950s to the mid-'90s, first as an architect who helped design the central terminal area and then as assistant general manager for planning and engineering with the airport agency. "We were more interested in giving passengers information on where to go and how to make their trip comfortable rather than purveying a product."

But times have changed. With airports facing a cash crunch in the early '90s and again in 2000, more facilities turned to advertising.

At LAX, airport agency officials said their advertising program will be designed so it doesn't distract from general airport information.

"When people get off an airplane and come into this country for the first time, it's very important that they know how to get to baggage claim," said Rick Janisse, deputy executive director for properties and concessions for the airport agency. "We don't want to do anything that's going to create a lot of visual noise."

The city's Airport Commission voted Tuesday to authorize the airport agency to solicit bids from companies to administer the program. The vendor selected by the commission will be charged with selling ad space, designing and reviewing ads to ensure that they comply with city standards, and installing and maintaining them.

The airport's nine terminals could accommodate 467 ads in ticketing lobbies, concourse hallways and baggage claim areas, Janisse said. The airport agency is talking with airlines that lease passenger waiting areas from the city to see whether they are interested in allowing ads there.

Other airports with advertising programs said they have been a successful revenue source.

"Our program has been particularly helpful in augmenting our airport operating budget considering the impact of 9/11 on the aviation industry," said Hilarie S. Grey, public affairs manager for the Clark County Department of Aviation, which operates Las Vegas-McCarran International Airport. "Advertising and concession revenue have definitely played a role in helping our airport to offset new security expenditures incurred over the past year."

McCarran's program raises about $9 million a year for the airport -- the world's 11th busiest. The facility's campaign has won several industry awards.

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