In May, about a month before Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa left office, he led a trade delegation to China. Now some of the the bills from that trip are becoming public.
Los Angeles World Airports, operator of LAX, paid $5546.50 for Villaraigosa’s plane ticket, documents show. The price appears to suggest Villaraigosa flew in business class. The airport also paid the same price for Michael Lawson, president of the Board of Airport Commissioners. The airport also paid $2,095 for the plane ticket of mayor’s office employee Martha Preciado, documents show.
LAWA and the Port of Los Angeles — both self financing city departments — combined to pay for the trip. The two entities estimated they would each pay about $40,000 in total. The goal was to stimulate trade and build relationships with China’s political and economic leaders.
Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, has not yet met with new mayor Eric Garcetti about the prospect of keeping her job, a spokeswoman said Monday night.
Garcetti, who took office on Monday, has said all heads of city department would need to reapply for their positions. Last month, Lindsey told me she wanted to stay.
“As of today, Garcetti and Gina Marie have not yet met,” airports spokeswoman Nancy Castles told late Monday night. “So, our response remains the same as what we provided you last month about Gina Marie looking forward to meeting with the new mayor because there are several important airport issues to be discussed (and not just about LAX).”
UPDATE: Frontier’s flight cited below between Denver and Rockford, Ill. is not being entirely cut as I initially reported. Frontier is instead making the flight summer only service.
People periodically ask why Los Angeles World Airports chooses not to given incentives to airlines operating at LAX or Ontario International Airport.
Lots of airports do it. You waive terminal or landing fees for awhile, and you can convince an airline to start an otherwise marginal route. Smaller and midsize cities do it because civic leaders and airport executives believe it’s their only chance of getting a nonstop flight to Chicago, or Dallas or Denver. Politicians and business interests often argue it’s good for economic development.
But incentives are not permanent. And when they end, airlines often pull out.
Hence, this week’s news that Frontier Airlines is rolling back its flights between Rockford, Ill. and Denver. The Rockford Register Star reported that in the first nine months of that service service, the airport was paying Frontier $30,000 a month to prop up the flight.
It will now be summer only service.