Tuesday , June 18 2024
Ontario Airport Parking.001
Ontario Airport Parking.001

San Bernardino Airport Pipe Dream

Walt Disney had an irrepressible imagination that led him to dream big, create his own animation studio, and ultimately design and build the world’s preeminent theme park s. Long after his passing, his vision continues to entertain billions of people, young and old. Even Michael Eisner’s leadership could not long stifle the Disney tradition.

Oh for just a little of that imagination and hard business sense in San Bernardino. San Bernardino International Airport certainly has imagination. The wishful idea that you can build a successful passenger airport in the midst of multiple competing air fields within just a few minutes of each other certainly is imaginative. So are Fairy Godmothers.

Recently, the leadership at SBIA announced efforts to attract general aviation business from Van Nuys Airport. Touting lower cost landing fees, hangar rentals and other pricing points that could make San Bernardino attractive for general aviation needs, our intrepid duo of San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis and Loma Linda Councilman Ovi Popescu intend to attract would be tenants away from Los Angeles to the desert of San Bernardino.

Walt Disney built Disneyland in what was then the middle-of-nowhere Orange County. What he built, was a destination, a place people wanted to go to, an experience. An airport is not a destination, but a means to get to a destination. Van Nuys Airport is a facility with destinations. Unless you are a bankruptcy attorney, San Bernardino is NOT a destination. Few people with their own aircraft live in or near San Bernardino. To make matters more difficult, Ontario International Airport has a very successful Fixed Base Operator in Guardian Jet Center.

The effort to develop the former Norton Air Force Base into a useful economic platform for the east valley has been plagued with grandiose concepts financed with ample largesse from both the Federal Government and California Redevelopment law. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been expended in an effort to build a facility that would attract commerce to our region. Norton has evolved from a general aviation facility to a fully functional Commercial Airport and apparently is devolving back to general aviation purposes. It has become painfully obvious that the usefulness of the airport as a commercial airlines destination has failed.

It wasn’t Scot Spencer who sunk the airport. It wasn’t the lack of funding. It wasn’t a lack of effort on behalf of the leadership or staff. Heaven knows they spent every dime they could to make the airport attractive and functional. This situation was a clear case of overkill.

The failure of the redevelopment of Norton Air Force Base was not in its stars, but in the hard reality of market-driven economics. San Bernardino suffers from an overcapacity of airports in a market of static or reduced air travel need, in a region that lacks both air passengers and a marketable destination.

Unlike the imaginary worlds of Walt Disney, which built an empire in an agricultural field of a nowhere place called Anaheim, San Bernardino International Airport is a landing place in the middle of economic failure. Folks surviving on public assistance don’t make a solid air traveler market. If you want to reach San Bernardino County’s resorts, there is no need to fly to San Bernardino as you can fly direct to Big Bear.

Let us not state that San Bernardino is short on imagination. But, it is time to stop “wishing upon a star.” No matter how hard they clap their hands and believe in fairies, SBIA will not be a successful airport. It’s time to put the pixie dust away and deal with reality. “A dream is a wish your heart makes,” not an international airport.

Check Also

California Power Outages Predictable and Here Forever

The recent “Public Safety Power Shutoffs” by Southern California Edison (Edison) and Pacific Gas and …