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Tuesday, Sep 26, 2023

California’s Head of Aviation Touts

Austin Wiswell, Aeronautics Chief of the California Department of Transportation, is quick to relay the fact that he’s in the business of transportation and not just aviation. Stressing aviation’s importance to the business community, Wiswell spoke to the Valley Industry and Commerce Association’s Aviation Committee on December 15. “Aviation is going to become a more important mode of transportation in the coming years. There are 250 public use airports in California that range from limited use landing strips to international gateways. My job is to make sure that they don’t disappear, because there won’t be any new ones in the near future. There are numerous small businesses that use aviation to depend on their livelihood. Aviation is the 900-pound gorilla in the room,” Wiswell said. Wiswell also emphasized the importance of Van Nuys Airport to the business climate of the Valley, noting that it is the largest general aviation airport in the world. “The Van Nuys airport contributes greatly to the economy. However, Van Nuys in and of itself is unimportant unless we use it to connect to other airports. It’s more important as a destination to other airports. An airport is how people get in and out of the community to do business. It’s all about business,” Wiswell said. He also weighed in on the significance of Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport, as well as Palmdale Airport. Wiswell is bullish on the possibility of the two airports further relieving congestion from Los Angeles International Airport. “In Palmdale, there’s a growing residential area out there. Business is also moving to the Lancaster area. Eventually Palmdale may justify a full commercial service airport out there. They have Scenic Airlines and it’s a start,” Wiswell said. “With Burbank, it depends on the economics of the situation, driven by the airlines. If they are getting people wanting flights out of Burbank and they are taking half full flights out of LAX, they are going to want a market someplace else. I think there’s a need for more of a regional approach for aviation. If people start to understand that it can be easier to get to another airport than LAX, they may start to take that option. ” Evelyn Jerome, a member of the Los Angeles County Aviation Committee and the VICA Aviation Committee, was pleased that the state recognized aviation’s importance to commerce. “I’m encouraged that the state understands how important general aviation airports are to both the transportation world and the business world,” Jerome said. “In Van Nuys, this airport is intimately involved in transportation and business and it has a huge economic impact to the community.”

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