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Regional Aviation Plan Includes Smaller Airports

San Diego Airport Authority officials are looking at the region’s smaller civilian airports to see how a network might help meet future aviation needs.

The Regional Aviation Strategic Plan recommends considering McClellan-Palomar Airport, Gillespie Field and Brown Field Municipal Airport for additional use for San Diego air traffic.
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Above: The Regional Aviation Strategic Plan recommends considering McClellan-Palomar Airport, Gillespie Field and Brown Field Municipal Airport for additional use for San Diego air traffic.

The option of expanding the airport at Miramar is out of the picture, and forecasts suggest Lindbergh Field will be at capacity sometime after 2020. State legislation requires a Regional Aviation Strategic Plan to see how all 12 airports in San Diego, plus the Tijuana airport, could help meet future needs.

Thella Bowen is CEO of the Airport. “This is probably the first time in the history of San Diego that any agency has undertaken a look at every civilian airport in the county to look at how we can use all of what we have to help provide aviation capacity," says Bowen.

The plan calls for seven airports to be considered for additional uses, but the top three are Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, Gillespie Field in El Cajon and Brown Field near the border.

Eric Bernhardt, an aviation consultant, says these are the airports with the right location and facilities to supplement Lindbergh Field.

“These airports are very well positioned to accommodate most of the demand that we anticipate will not be accommodated in the future,” he said, “They have the most potential to step forward with some relatively minor improvement and help the system be better optimized.”

Airport Planner, Ted Anasis, says the findings will be part of a Regional Transportation Plan to be completed next year.

“It’s important to note that any decisions or findings are going to be only recommendations - it is up to each airport operator or owners whether to implement the strategies identified.”

The City and the County of San Diego own and operate the airports.

Meanwhile the San Diego Association of Governments is working on ground transport, including the possibility of high speed rail to Lindbergh Field. It’ll all be included in a Regional Transportation Plan next year, looking ahead to 2050.

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