August 9, 2008

Lax Looking for New Revenue Airport: Freezing Job Positions Among Ideas.

By Rick Orlov

With airlines cutting flights to offset rising fuel costs, Los Angeles airport officials said Wednesday they are looking at other ways to increase revenue and reduce expenses including boosting landing fees and freezing some job positions.

Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, told the City Council's Trade, Commerce and Tourism Committee that Los Angeles International Airport modernization plans for the coming year will not be affected but general operations at the airport could be.

It is all due to the cost of fuel and airlines struggling to contain their own budgets, Lindsey said.

"They are trying to make their payrolls each month and looking for the figures that will keep them profitable," Lindsey said.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn said she is concerned about what the flight cutbacks could mean for LAX.

"This was to be our moment," Hahn said. "My concern is how this will impact our modernization plans and keep the airlines feeling good and wanting to participate in what we are doing."

Lindsey acknowledged the challenge.

"It is the 800-pound gorilla in the corridor," Lindsey said. "This is the challenge, juxtaposing the reality that we have an airport that is seriously behind (competing airports).

"What we need to do is develop new ways to get ourselves in a position to adopt a financial strategy that embraces the reality of these troubled times."

Among the steps Lindsey said she is taking to reduce costs is freezing some job positions and considering whether to charge for Internet access and impose a fee on vans coming into the central terminal area.

"We cannot afford to provide services for which we are not recovering costs," Lindsey said.

Airlines announced last month that they are cutting flights to LAX by 16.4 percent -- a loss of 163,000 passenger seats.

To make up for some of the losses, the Board of Airport Commissioners approved a 15 percent increase in landing fees that is expected to generate an additional $185 million.

Among projects under way now as part of LAX's $5 billion modernization program are continuing improvements at the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

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