Below is the most recent information on the County’s General Aviation Improvement Program
(GAIP) for John Wayne Airport.
The City of Newport Beach believes that aspects of the GAIP could lead to an increase in
JWA’s general aviation jet arrivals and departures. The Board of Supervisors will again
consider the GAIP on June 25th. This item was continued from the Board’s May 7th meeting
to allow time for a compromise solution proposed by Supervisor Do to be evaluated by County
On June 19, County staff moved forward with the same recommendation presented at the May
7 Board of Supervisor Meeting which asks the Board to approve Alternative 1. The City
opposes Alternative 1 in its original form because it will result in more jets flying over the
community. The city does, however, remain willing to consider the “modified Alternative 1” as
proposed by Supervisor Do, or another reasonable plan that contains project elements that
protect the communities surrounding the airport from additional noise and pollution impacts.
Specifically the City is looking for the Board of Supervisors to adopt a plan based on, or that
contains elements similar to, the principles of Alternative 3 (the City’s preferred Alternative)
• No more than two (2) full-service Fixed Based Operations
• One (1) new and one (1) existing limited-service Fixed Base Operations
• No General AviationFacility for processing international general aviation passengers
• Increased hangar space for small general aviation planes
• Maintain the current GA mix, meaning, keep the current ratio of light general aviation aircraft
(single and twin engine) and general aviation jets.
John Wayne Airport General Aviation Improvement Program
Questions & Answers
Is this an expansion of the airport itself? The County of Orange is not proposing to
expand the footprint or physical size of the airport. However, the City believes that some of
the changes proposed in the GAIP could increase the number of general aviation jet
operations. Operations are defined as aircraft arrivals to, or departures from, an airport.
What about JetSuiteX? Is there some loophole in how it operates? JetSuiteX operates
out of one of the Fixed Base Operators, the private companies that provide services to the
General Aviation community. Though JetSuiteX operates in what has traditionally been
General Aviation “territory”, due to the nature of its operations, it is considered a
“commercial user” by JWA. As a commercial user, JetSuiteX is subject to the terms of the
1985 JWA Settlement Agreement and subsequent amendments. Meaning, among other
things, its passengers are counted toward the limit on Million Annual Passengers and its
flights must abide by the noise limits and commercial air carrier curfew.
JetSuiteX is the first commercial air carrier that the County Board of Supervisors has
permitted to operate out of a Fixed Base Operator. The Board approved this location in the
spring of 2018. All other commercial air carriers operate out of the main terminal.
How does John Wayne Airport define commercial user? The John Wayne Airport Access
Plan defines commercial user as follows (emphasis added by the City):
“... any person conducting aircraft operations at JWA for the purpose of carrying
passengers, freight, or cargo where such operations: (i) are operated in support of,
advertised, or otherwise made available to members of the public by any means for
commercial air transportation purposes, and members of the public may travel or ship
Commercial Cargo on the flights; (ii) the flights are scheduled to occur, or are represented
as occurring (or available) at specified times and days; and (iii) the person conducts, or
proposes to operate, departures at JWA at a frequency greater than two (2) times per week
during any consecutive three (3) week period.
Since there’s no “loophole”, why does the City care where JetSuiteX is located at John
Some have questioned why the City cares where JetSuiteX operates, particularly since the
aircraft it uses are generally smaller and quieter than most of the commercial aircraft in the
JWA fleet. The City wants JetSuiteX’s operations moved to the main terminal for reasons
related to safety, security and accountability.It is considered a commercial user and as such, it should operate among the airport’s other commercial users – the main terminal. The City is very concerned about commercial operations “encroaching” into an area of the airport that has traditionally been used by
General Aviation. There are gates available in the main terminal. In addition, the City has safety and security concerns related to the screening of commercial passengers at a Fixed Base Operator rather than in the main terminal. While Federal regulations allow it, the City believes all commercial passengers should be screened in the main terminal.
What about the “Ubers” in the Sky?
There are other companies that operate what some dub “Ubers in the sky” because they sell available seats on chartered or private aircraft. However, they aren’t available to the general public and they don’t fly a regular schedule.Thus, they don’t meet the definition of commercial user.
Can the City renegotiate the 1985 JWA Settlement Agreement to obtain more
The federal government approved the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990
(ANCA) five years after our agreement was in place. ANCA made it virtually impossible
for local governments or airport operators to place further restrictions on aircraft noise,
capacity and operations. Fortunately, the limits at JWA as set forth in the 1985 settlement
agreement were “grandfathered” under ANCA, and the federal government has allowed the
restrictions to remain in place. We understand that many in our community would like to
see changes. However, due to ANCA, no further restrictions can be placed on JWA
Are General Aviation jets allowed to fly 24/7?
Yes, as long as they meet the noise limits set forth in the JWA General Aviation Ordinance (GANO). Unlike the time-based, commercial air carrier curfew that prevents commercial flights from arriving or departing
JWA during a set period of time nightly, the General Aviation “curfew” is noise-level based.
These levels vary by day and night. Please see the chart below.