JSX Sues John Wayne Airport To Provide Air Service

 - December 15, 2020, 1:16 PM
A JSX Embraer regional jet departs John Wayne Airport. (Photo: Barry Ambrose/AIN)

JSX has filed a lawsuit in U.S. Central District Court-Southern Division against Orange County, California, and John Wayne Airport (SNA) director Barry Rondinella to stop their efforts at preventing the company from operating at one of its top three markets. In September, the Orange County board of supervisors approved new FBO lease agreements with ACI Jet and Clay Lacy Aviation that effectively shut out JSX from operating its business model of “hop-on jet service" at SNA but left open the ability to conduct traditional airline operations.

JSX alleges in the lawsuit that despite assurances to the contrary from Rondinella that it would be awarded passenger allocations at SNA in 2021, JSX was informed in a letter to CEO Alex Wilcox dated November 19 that his company would no longer be allowed to operate from the airport effective January 1. An airport spokeswoman said the county is reviewing the lawsuit and its allegations and has no comment.

“Our business model represents the apogee in the evolution of air travel that Congress intended by enacting a detailed federal statutory and regulatory system governing aviation to assure access to the airport and competition,” said Wilcox. “Under that federal system, [SNA’s] recent termination of JSX existing service at [SNA] will cause JSX, its customers, and the general public irreparable harm and is illegal, patently unconstitutional, and anti-competitive.”

According to Wilcox and JSX, several other airport directors, counties, residents, and businesses have in the past week contacted SNA and Rondinella to voice their opposition to the termination of JSX services at SNA.

Wilcox thinks SNA’s so-called Access Plan that would prevent JSX’s operations there violates FAA and other federal government funding the airport receives. “I am hopeful that the board will see that they have been led astray and will take quick corrective action to avoid a protracted legal battle that, among other things, potentially calls into question the continued viability of the [SNA] Access Plan and certain other requisite conditions to federal entitlements,” he said.