Orange County Business Journal

Supervisors Approve JWA Incentives on Mexico Service

Kari Hamanaka Friday, November 11, 2011

The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved an incentive program earlier this week that could help John Wayne Airport attract airlines to provide service to Mexico.

The approval comes as the airport is set to open its new Terminal C on Monday.

The incentive program promises a $300,000 rent credit for airlines that commit to nonstop routes to Mexico averaging five flights weekly during the first year of operations.

The credit could cover a significant portion of the rent and other costs associated with international flights.

Airline fees to use the airport can range anywhere from $750,000 to $10 million annually. Mexico service is estimated to be in the lower end of that range with the incentive program expected to cover as much as 40% of a carrier’s costs for operating routes from JWA.

Up to three separate airlines could qualify for the discounts.

Airlines with the earliest service start date would qualify for the incentive first. Any conflicts between two or more airlines pitching the same service would be resolved through a lottery.

The new terminal includes space for U.S. Customs and Border Protection operations, a necessity for service to Mexico and other international destinations.

Terminal C is the last of the major construction projects making up a $543 million airport improvement program that will help JWA accommodate as many as 10.8 million passengers annually.