L.A. Area Chamber

    TUESDAY | Sept. 2, 2008





Coming up
at the Chamber

View all upcoming events on our Web calendar.

FRI | Sept. 5
Business Growth & Tax Policy Committee Meeting
more info

TUE | Sept. 9
Referral Network
Grow Your Business
more info

WED | Sept. 10
Aviation Committee Meeting
more info

FRI | Sept. 12
Health Care Committee Meeting
more info

TUE | Sept. 16
Member Orientation
more info

WED | Sept. 17
International Trade & Investment Committee Meeting
more info

THU | Sept. 18
Trade and Investment with Armenia
more info

THU | Sept. 18
Transportation & Goods Movement Committee Meeting
Frank Busalacchi, Secretary of Transportation, State of Wisconsin
more info

THU | Sept. 18
Energy, Water & Environment Committee Meeting
Margot Brown, California Integrated Waste Management Board and Janet Coke, Los Angeles County Waste by Rail program
more info

THU | Sept. 18
The Connection Point
Pulling Your Act Together
more info

THU | Sept. 18
L.A. Jobs Political Action Committee Fall Fundraiser
more info

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business in L.A. County. Founded in 1888, the Chamber promotes a prosperous economy and quality of life in the Los Angeles region. For more information, visit

350 S. Bixel St.
Los Angeles, CA 90017
213.580.7500 tel
213.580.7511 fax


As domestic airlines suffer record losses due to high fuel prices, the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is also facing its own challenges with last week’s labor strike and the proposed increase in the mandated wage for employees at the airport. How city leaders navigate these issues with the airline industry will have a major impact on the airport’s $120 billion economic engine for years to come.

For airlines, the situation is dire. Skyrocketing fuel prices will result in up to $6 billion in airline financial losses this year alone - eclipsing the post 9/11 downturn.

As airlines reduce flights, consolidate or file for bankruptcy, the repercussions will be felt in our local economy. Each daily international flight over the course of a calendar year generates $640 million and supports 2,130 jobs inSouthern California, according to a 2007 study by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. By the end of 2008, LAX is projected to lose 925 weekly flights and nine destination points due to the downturn. Ten airlines have already gone out of business. Each loss, especially when we lose flights to a competing airport outside of region, is a net loss to our local economy, which impacts working families and businesses.

In the midst of these historical industry challenges, it is important to note that LAX has more leadership and direction than at any point in the last two decades. LAX Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey and her team are successfully managing the largest set of LAX capital improvement projects since the 1984 Olympics. Gates and runway taxiways to handle the new generation of aircraft are being added and terminals are being renovated to improve the passenger experience in a dramatic way. The airlines serving LAX are paying for much of these improvements.

The dual timing of major infrastructure projects and the airlines’ financial challenges makes it even more important to “do no harm” and work to maintain the maximum number of flights at LAX. That’s why it was so important for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to negotiate a three-week cooling-off period for striking airport workers to continue contract negotiations without passenger disruption.

In that vein, we suggest that the L.A. City Council withdraw a proposal that would levy an additional wage mandate on airlines and airport contractors. Adding that cost to the airlines in this economic climate may be the tipping point that makes LAX less competitive thereby forcing flights – and jobs – to leave on a jet plane for another city or airport.

Instead of new ordinances, the city should pledge to work with the airlines on solutions that will not saddle the carriers with new mandates. There is a real opportunity for the city, airline industry and business community to work together and secure federal funding for better employee training programs. In addition, completing this phase of airport renovations will also be a major incentive for airlines to choose LAX over other airports. New mandates will only hurt these efforts.

Successful collaboration especially during this economic downturn is the strategy that will create the most opportunities for better jobs, better pay and better training. That’s a flight we should all be on together.

And that’s The Business Perspective. 

Gary L. Toebben
President & CEO
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

The Business Perspective is a weekly opinion piece by Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, produced with the input of Samuel Garrison, Vice President of Public Policy.


by Gary Toebben, President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

L.A. Business

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Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, 350 S. Bixel St., Los Angeles, CA 90017
213.580.7500 | fax: 213.580.7511 | info@lachamber.com | www.lachamber.com

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