Saturday, March 21, 2009 | I’m not an expert on air travel or airports, but like many senior citizens, I’ve traveled a lot and landed in a lot of places, both foreign and domestic.

So, I’ve had the opportunity to compare Lindbergh Field with other airports, and it’s no surprise it’s rated so highly by travel authorities for it’s convenience. Occasionally, it’s crowded, e.g., at Thanksgiving and Christmas. But what airport isn’t? It’s not fancy, but it’s functional and certainly much less crowded than most airports I’ve experienced. I think my assessment is shared by the vast majority of airport users.

This would change dramatically under the “Destination Lindbergh” plan, created by the airport authority in cooperation with the city, San Diego Association of Governments and numerous other bureaucracies. Like most committee design projects, they appear to have created a camel.

I’ll be required to check in much earlier, on the north side of the field, then travel with my luggage a mile or so by bus around to the existing gates, where I would, presumably, then start through the security check. The big new bells and whistles are nine new gates and a gee-whiz “intermodal transit center,” sort of like what we have currently in Old Town.

It’s estimated by experts that the transit center would be used by about 5 percent of travelers.

It turns out that the plan, in addition to the huge downgrade in convenience, has two other major flaws. No one focused on how the $11 billion estimated new debt would be serviced, and no one thought to involve the airlines in the plan.

Airlines would be expected to pay for the changes and pass the cost on to passengers in the form of higher fares and extra fees. When they learned the details, apparently from newspaper accounts, they told the airport authority president the plan stunk. So here we are, with a plan developed by these bureaucrats, at a cost no one knows yet but certainly several million dollars, revealed with great fanfare to the shock and awe of both the airlines and the public, and it falls flat.

Does this remind you of Hillary Clinton’s heath care plan?

On March 20, the proposal was described in a U-T op-ed piece supposedly authored by mayor Sanders, airport authority Chairman Alan Bersin and Lemon Grove mayor Mary Sessom. No sooner was the ink dry on the article before Sanders’ office denied not only authorship but authorization to even use his name on the piece, and it turns out that the city council’s “endorsement” of the project was a gross overstatement, since it had merely accepted the report.

My reaction to this latest fiasco is that it’s high time the airport authority is folded back into the Unified Port District, from whence it sprang. I seem to recall it was created for the express purpose of finding and acquiring an alternative to Lindbergh Field for the future, and it was given, in the interim, responsibility to manage the existing airport, which it has done adequately but certainly no better than the port had done. It failed spectacularly in it’s primary mission, spending untold millions of public funds on a vain search for a phantom “new” location for the airport, and completely ignoring proposals brought forth by knowledgeable “outsiders” with innovative ideas such as an offshore facility.

My assessment may be biased, but I think this is a bureaucracy running amok, without accountability to any specific authority, and it should be closed down because it has repeatedly proven it’s incompetence. What do you think?

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