PALMDALE FLIGHTS CALLED VITAL NEED.
Developing and marketing Palmdale Regional Airport will be critical to the economy of the San Fernando Valley region and progress is being made, leaders of the effort told business representatives Tuesday.
Developing Palmdale's cargo and passenger capacity is especially important because of disputes over proposed expansion of Los Angeles International and Burbank airports, civic and business leaders said at the forum sponsored by a committee of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association.
``Air traffic infrastructure is critical for business development,'' said Robert Rodine, chairman of VICA's aviation subcommittee. ``It's critical for cargo. It's critical for business travel - people coming here to buy and sell goods. So we have to provide the portals.''
The Valley business organization is studying the agreement announced last month by Palmdale, the Los Angeles Department of Airports and Los Angeles World Airports, which calls for joint efforts to improve the Antelope Valley air facility to help meet demand in the next century.
VICA has endorsed the LAX expansion proposal, involving upgrades to handle as many as 92 million passengers by 2015. VICA plans to take a position on the Palmdale proposal to bring back passenger traffic and handle as many as 7.3 million passengers there by 2020.
A Los Angeles World Airports official told the VICA panel that planners count on the Palmdale airport to help ease pressure on LAX, and they expect the LAX share of the region's passenger market eventually to shrink from 75 percent to 60 percent.
A group representing various government and regulatory agencies already is working on plans to improve freeway access, passenger and cargo facilities, and a marketing plan aimed at the airline industry, said Mary Albers, senior management analyst for the airports department.
The Federal Aviation Administration has endorsed the Palmdale proposal. Federal funding from aviation revenue is expected for all phases of the work, including airport improvements, marketing and freeway and highway projects.
Supporters appear to have overcome an initial hurdle in Congress for a Route 138 bypass and Antelope Valley Freeway ramp project.
Some U.S. senators opposed a plan for the city to give land it owns for airport expansion to the state Department of Transportation for the work, contending the state should pay $12 million for the land. But Rep. Howard ``Buck'' McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, inserted language in an annual federal aviation measure to keep the project moving forward.