The Orange County Board of Supervisors extended the John Wayne Airport curfew through 2035 on Tuesday while also allowing for more flights and passengers–years from now, when those board members will be long gone.
The board's history with setting hour, flight and passenger limits goes back to a 1985 legal settlement over jet noise. (See the kind of complaints that later led to the Newport Beach-born push to close JWA/SNA and open a 24-hour international airport at the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro.) The county sneaked in like a bomber to win the airport powers before the federal government banned such authority in 1990.
The curfew prohibits departures from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day except Sundays, when it runs from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Arrivals are prohibited between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Mondays-Saturdays and until 8 a.m. Sundays.
The airport currently allows 85 commercial daily flights and 10.8 million annual passengers, and that won't change under the new deal until Jan. 1, 2021, when 95 daily flights and 11.8 million annual passengers will be permitted.
If the number of passengers between Jan. 1, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2025, is within 5 percent of 11.8 million annually, the amount of passengers will be allowed to go up to 12.5 million annually from 2026 through the end of 2030. But if passenger levels fail to reach 11.21 million annually in any year between 2021 and 2025, the cap will be 12.2 million annually through the end of 2030.
Newport Beach Mayor Rush Hill told supervisors it was "truly a special day for Newport Beach and all of the corridor cities," according to a City News Service report that has hizzoner calling John Wayne Airport "one of the best managed airports in the nation."