Best Private Jet Charter Airports to Fly In and Out Of the Greater LA Area

by Richard Zaher / Apr 12, 2014

LA

The sprawling Los Angeles, California area is home to the entertainment industry, and therefore a major hub for corporate jet activity. There are a number of executive airports in the Southern California area that fall into the “greater LA area” from Oxnard or Orange County, to Santa Monica and Ontario. No matter what neighborhood of the southern Sunshine State you find yourself in, you are never far from a private jet airport. The 4 main executive airports comprise of Van Nuys, followed by Santa Ana, Long Beach and Burbank. Many private jet enthusiasts ask for flights from Santa Monica, but as SMO is considered a dangerous airport, because of its short runway and issues with traffic from nearby LAX, it’s generally not popular with jet charters, and so it won’t be discussed in this article.

Average Yearly General Aviation Activity Report

VNY: 270,000 takeoffs and landings per year. Source

SNA: 163,565 takeoffs and landings per year. Source

LGB: 194,938 takeoffs and landings per year. Source

BUR: 65,384 takeoffs and landings per year.

VNY – Van Nuys Airport

Van Nuys Airport

Out of all the best private airports in LA, VNY is by far the most popular. The airport lies in the middle of Van Nuys, California just north of the Hollywood Hills. It serves the communities northwest of LA, and the famous Beverly Hills area. It is also the airport of choice for Hollywood, being the setting of many movie and television scenes, such as Madmen and Airwolf.

VNY is well situated, just a few miles off the I-405, north of H-wy 101. It has two runways – one is 8000 ft, and large enough for the biggest jets, and a 4000 ft. runway, too short for most jets but good for turboprops. The airport is moderately busy with private and business jet traffic and some military flights as well. Of the four executive airports, VNY is the busiest, and has by far the most takeoffs and landings than any of the other airports.

Van Nuys is the home of two companies founded by, and named after famous aviation pioneers. Bob Hoover’s Jet Center, established by a WWII Veteran and test pilot Bob Hoover, and Clay Lacy Aviation, established by another test and aerial race pilot from the early days, Clay Lacy.

Van Nuys houses the largest corporate jet fleet in Southern California, and with its location, and services, it’s positioned as the prime airport for the LA area. When looking for empty legs to LA, expect 90% of them ending in Van Nuys.

SNA – John Wayne Orange County Airport

John Wayne Airport

John Wayne Airport, Orange County, in Santa Ana California, is one of  the 4 main corporate airports that serve the LA area. As do most places, it has some very popular features, as well as drawbacks. SNA is a typical corporate aviation airport, with a runway length just big enough for the largest corporate jets, restricting major commercial traffic. This allows the airport to focus on general aviation and reduces delays but can cause some minor issues when the weather’s bad. But since it never rains in Southern California, that’s not really a problem, right?

John Wayne Airport, named after the famous western actor, is situated on the I-405 south of Los Angeles, in the middle of Orange County. It’s usually the preferred airport for many people living in the southern LA area, beating the much busier Long Beach airport. With a single jet runway and a small parallel GA runway for small piston aircraft, landing may be slightly rougher than anticipated if there is a cross wind, but with favorable winds, it’s absolutely fine. (LGB has 3 main runways)

As with the other LA area General Aviation airports, SNA does not have customs. Shortly after September 11th, the local customs offices at LAX determined to stop clearing customs at their satellite airports like Van Nuys, Long Beach, and Santa Ana, so all international flights must fly into LAX. However, outbound customs are sometimes open for individual cases that wish to depart to international destinations.

There are about 30 corporate jets and turboprops available for charter from the SNA airport. These aircraft range from Pilatus and King Air turboprops, through Challenger 604s to other large jets, and everything in between. These aircraft will charge a small, competitive repositioning fee to go to other Los Angeles airports for departures.

LGB Airport – Long Beach Airport

Long Beach Airport

Long Beach Airport or Daugherty Field is one of the largest executive airports in the LA area, and one of two that offer commercial flights as well as private jet services. The airport is located south of downtown LA, just east of the LA River, near the I-405. It’s close to the Long Beach docks, as well as many other industrial areas, and inner-city areas like Compton. The location can scare away some private jet flyers who are looking for a safer, better airport experience.

The airport is named after Earl S. Daugherty, a famous barnstormer from the 1920s. Prior to the airfield being established pilots landed their biplanes on the local beach. Daugherty convinced the city to open a municipal airstrip, which would be home to many famous aerobatic pioneers.

LGB airport has a small amount of commercial service, with Jet Blue being its largest operator. Due to noise abatement restrictions in place, the number of daily departures of both commercial and corporate traffic is limited.  The airport has 5 runways with the longest being a 10,000 ft runway capable of landing any size jet. Three of the other four runways are also jet capable, allowing aircraft to land at LGB in any type of wind.

Long Beach airport is not as well established with charter jet operators as the other four airports in LA. There are only 16 aircraft calling the airport home and most of these are large jets like Gulfstreams. However, standing second place in takeoffs and landings, LGB airport should certainly be considered as one of the top executive airports in the Los Angeles Area.

BUR Airport – Bob Hope Airport

Burbank Airport

Burbank, California’s Bob Hope airport, or BUR is one of the least busy of the executive airports surrounding the Los Angeles area. The airport has commercial as well as private jet services and is situated on the Northeast side of LA.

The airport was opened as a commercial terminal, and for a long time was the largest of the LA area airports, until LAX opened. In 2003 the airport was renamed as Bob Hope Airport after the famous comedian who had passed away earlier that year. Hope was a resident of nearby Toluca Lake and kept his personal aircraft nearby.

Burbank has two runways that are able to service most jets, up to and including a Boeing 737, allowing it to be usable by Boeing Business Jets and similar VIP airliners. BUR is less busy than the other four area executive airports, so it seldom has traffic issues, which can benefit private jets looking to depart quickly and without delays.

There are only a few charter operators at Bob Hope airport, but with decent-sized fleets, they have some of the largest corporate jets in the region. Similarly to Long Beach, Burbank operators realize their airport’s drawbacks and are willing to reposition to other airports to pick up flights. However, it’s important to remember being flexible with departure points will bring a flight’s pricing down as you are able to cut down the positioning costs.

About Richard Zaher

Richard Zaher Richard Zaher is the founder and CEO of Paramount Business Jets. He is a pilot and the President of Air Charter Association of North America (ACANA). Richard is a graduate of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Studies. A seasoned international jet charter expert, entrepreneur, humanitarian, and the recipient of the Embry Riddle Eagle Excellence Award at the 2012 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention. He is also an active member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) as well as several safety and air charter organizations.

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