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Residents Concerned Over Plans for Palomar Airport

Residents of Carlsbad are getting nervous about talk of more air traffic at Palomar Airport. A recent study suggests north county residents could use the airport to fly to places like San Francisco, L

Residents of Carlsbad are getting nervous about talk of more air traffic at Palomar Airport. A recent study suggests north county residents could use the airport to fly to places like San Francisco, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Baja, supplementing Lindbergh Field in the future. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

McLellan Palomar Airport in Carlsbad has seen an increase in turboprop jets in the last three years. Seven of those fly daily to Los Angeles.

Peter Drinkwater, director of the County's eight regional airports, says commuter jets from Palomar could technically fly as far as Denver and Houston if the County lengthened the runway by 1000 feet.

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<b> Drinkwater: </b> We do have the ability to add 1000 feet of runway. we own the land, we know that would improve safety, but would that open the door to other services?

Dennis Dale, a retired Carlsbad resident, lives in the flight path.

<b> Dale: </b> I'm in my back yard looking up at them. Twin engine -- this goes on day in, day in even in the small hours of the night.
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Dale says he's not looking forward to more flights or a longer runway. He says so far the people who benefit from the airstrip are mainly wealthy businessmen.

<b> Dale: </b> This airport is absolutely a jewel for the money class.

But Drinkwater says residents of Escondido, San Marcos, Vista and Oceanside could use the airport, if airlines decided to provide service. He says with Lindbergh's capacity limited over the long term, it could happen.

<b> Drinkwater: </b> Trying to jam everyone into one airport is really ludicrous when you could reduce traffic on the freeways and you don't have to be increasing noise or making residents crazy in the process.

Drinkwater says extending the runway east could reduce noise for residents along the coast because planes could climb higher sooner. But the cost to extend the runway is in the millions, because an old landfill would have to be cleaned up first.

An advisory committee is considering future options.

Alison St John, KPBS News.