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Thursday, April 28, 2005 | Our sharp-eyed parliamentarian at the Kettner Boulevard College of Turkey Surgeons and Airport Relocation Committee spotted the ultimate airport solution the other day in a letter to Voice of San Diego.

The letter was in response to Neil Morgan’s column about getting from Los Angeles to San Diego. Neil was fretting about the $200-plus fare for a simple flight from L.A. to Lindbergh, and the letter-writer wondered why he didn’t just take a flight from L.A. to Tijuana’s airport and then climb the fence.

Well, exactly, said our parliamentarian.

“I realize it may not be practical, literally,” he said. “For example, what is the fare from L.A. to Tijuana? Is there even a flight? A man of Neil’s maturity might have trouble getting over the fence, though all-in-all it probably is no worse than going into Lindbergh and hauling your wife’s luggage from Terminal 2 over the bridge to the parking lot.”

But it was the principle that had been discovered, and that is what excites the KBCTSARC. The principle is this: Don’t move the airport, move the airplanes.

Arguments continue to mount against moving the airport. When you formally have to eliminate Borrego Springs as a new airport site, you know the search for new sites was fundamentally flawed in the first place. The failure of British Airways to establish a single San Diego-London route tells us what we need to know about San Diego’s potential as the host for a true international airport.

Lindbergh’s only problem is enough infrastructure (we love that word at the KBCTSARC) to handle domestic flights, and that is where moving the airplanes comes in, plus some groundbreaking work with Mexico and Tijuana that needs to happen anyway. Instead of scheduling all San Diego flights into Lindbergh Field, the airlines schedule some of them into Tijuana.

What is needed then are a trans-border, first-quality shuttle and customs agreements to make it easy to move U.S. passengers back and forth across the border to the Tijuana terminal for international (back to the U.S.) departures. Actually a departure lounge and parking lot can be built on the U.S. side just opposite the airport. Yes, that will take some work and innovation and cooperation, but nothing like building a whole new airport somewhere. And the airlines will have to be convinced, but it seems high time in San Diego, not to mention the whole country, for some progressive convincing of an original kind.

And built into that innovation and cooperation will be the kind of foresight and leadership that will become a good first pact between San Diego and Tijuana that may yet turn these cities into a hub of Pacific Rim commerce, wealth and revenues to rebuild and sustain a comfortable infrastructure (yes!) for the masses.

Speaking of which, Tijuana could be made into San Diego’s international terminal of choice, with new flights to Europe, Asia and (just for Neil) L.A.

Journalist, author and educator Michael Grant has been putting his spin on San Diego, and the city putting its spin on him, since 1972. His Web site is at www.michaelgrant.com.

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