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AIRLINE SOUGHT FOR PALMDALE L.A. WORLD AIRPORTS WILL LEAD THE EFFORT TO ATTRACT CARRIER.

Byline: JIM SKEEN Staff Writer

PALMDALE -- A city of Los Angeles commission gave the green light Monday for airport officials to begin soliciting an airline to serve Palmdale.

The Los Angeles World Airports board voted 5-0 to issue requests for proposals for airlines to provide regional jet service for the Antelope Valley. The board also agreed to enter a memorandum of understanding that puts LAWA in the lead of a coalition offering $4.6 million in incentives to attract air service for Palmdale.

``Developing new and expanded service at Southland regional airports will go a long way toward relieving congestion at Los Angeles International Airport,'' Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a statement.

LAWA will lead the effort to seek an airline that will offer flights by 50- to 90-passenger jets to other western cities, such as Phoenix, San Francisco and Dallas-Forth Worth, officials said.

The coalition, called Wheels Up Palmdale, will offer more than $2 million in funding to offset operating costs for an airline serving the community and an additional $2.6 million in the form of terminal rental waivers and in-kind services, such as marketing.

LAWA is putting up $1.1 million in funding and an additional $900,000 is coming from a federal transportation grant. LAWA is also providing more than $1.2 million in noncash incentives, including the terminal rent waivers.

The city of Palmdale and Los Angeles County are each providing $25,000 in funding.

The money will only be given in the event the airline shows an operating loss in its Palmdale operations.

In addition to the funding, Palmdale is providing $900,000 in in-kind services and LAWA will provide $1.2 million in other noncash services, including the terminal rental waivers.

``The $900,000 is for marketing support,'' said Danny Roberts, head of economic development for Palmdale. ``It doesn't do any good to have airline service and have nobody know about it.''

Other partners in Wheels Up Palmdale include the Antelope Valley Board of Trade, the Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, and the Air Force.

Palmdale lost its only airline in January when Scenic Airlines pulled out, saying it wasn't carrying enough passengers to make money on its flights to and from north Las Vegas.

Scenic, which operated 19-passenger turboprop aircraft out of Palmdale for just over a year, was the first airline in the Antelope Valley in nearly seven years.

Commuter airlines United Express, America West and SkyWest operated between the Palmdale Regional Airport terminal and LAX in the 1990s -- sometimes two airlines at a time. All pulled out after failing to generate profits with their Palmdale operations. The last left in 1998.

james.skeen@dailynews

(661) 267-5743
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 21, 2006
Words:454
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