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County Supervisors Approve General Aviation Facility Operator Leases

At its Tuesday, September 15 meeting, the Orange County Board of Supervisors further advanced the John Wayne Airport General Aviation Improvement Program (GAIP) with its approval of 35-year leases with two of the private companies that will build out and operate the airport’s new general aviation facilities. Known as full-service fixed base operators (FBOs), Clay Lacy Aviation and ACI Jet will provide services such as aircraft storage and parking, fueling, and maintenance to the general aviation community. 

The lease approvals capped the County's multi-year planning process for the GAIP in which it prepared an environmental impact report, selected a project alternative and conducted a request for proposals process for fixed base operators. The City of Newport Beach and aviation-focused community groups have been closely following the project from the start, and working to prevent the GAIP from resulting in increased general aviation jet traffic over Newport Beach.

As the project progressed through the planning stages, Newport Beach was able to convince the Board to move forward with just two full-service FBOs instead of three FBOs as recommended by JWA staff. Next, the Board responded to the City's request for the County to maintain the presence of small general aviation by adopting a land use plan that restricts most of the space available under the GAIP for the smaller and quieter general aviation aircraft. Both actions were significant concessions by the Board and will result in fewer flights over Newport Beach and surrounding communities. 


Approved Project

Approx. 31 acres for small GA

Approx. 34.6 acres for small GA

Approx. 29 acres for GA jets

About 25.6 acres for GA jets

Two full-service FBOs

Two full-service FBOs


After the project was approved, the City urged the Board to include additional community protections in the long-term leases between the County and the FBOs. The County responded by including lease terms that:

  • Uphold and protect for the long-term, its earlier land use decision preserving the majority of space available under the GAIP for the smaller and quieter general aviation aircraft.
  • Prohibit the operation of a commercial airline from the area reserved for general aviation. This also protects the area of JWA historically set aside for general aviation.

The City also asked the Board to include lease terms that limit the operating hours of the FBOs. The Board chose not to do so in the leases based on advice given by the County’s legal counsel. However, Clay Lacy Aviation and ACI Jet voluntarily committed to set hours of operation that will encourage their customers to arrive and depart the airport at times that align with the commercial curfew. This was a direct result of the FBOs listening closely to the City's and community's concerns.

Unfortunately, the Board chose not to eliminate the General Aviation Facility or to include a requirement that the Board must approve any material changes to the leases that may be proposed in the future.

In the coming weeks, City staff will be meeting with JWA staff to discuss the proposed development of a noise abatement program specific to general aviation.  For more details, please read the September 16 Aviation Activities Update.


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