Just down the street from SoFi Stadium, a stone’s throw from LAX and neighboring rocket-maker Space X, Levi Stockton stood among a gleaming fleet of private jets inside an Advanced Air hangar, where his company operates private charter flights, among a range of services, to Hawthorne Municipal Airport.
On this day – a little over a week before Super Bowl LVI – things are relatively quiet here, except for the occasional thunder of a Gulf Stream taking off or the splashing/lapping of a small helicopter that approach, as it exited the edge of the small airport’s 4,956-foot-long runway.
But come next week at this time, as the iconic game draws closer, this place – which has been around for 17 years – will be buzzing like never before.
Hollywood Park and the ubiquity of events and businesses that draw people to Los Angeles have always been a source of customers for the Stockton company. But the Super Bowl is, uh, a whole new ball game.
“It’s one of the biggest events in the world. We’ve been planning for this for over a year. And we predict it will be the busiest it’s ever been,” said Stockton, Founder and President of Advanced Air, which also owns and operates Jet Center Los Angeles.
Aviation officials expect up to 1,100 additional general aviation flights to the region between Feb. 6 and Feb. 14, as well-paying (and high-flying) clientele flock to the region from around the world. the country. That means hundreds more landings and takeoffs at the many Southern California airports – large and small – that dot the region.
Private jets, single-engine planes of all kinds — you name it, jet-setters, VIPs, charter flights — will land at smaller air hubs from the South Bay to the San Fernando Valley to the Inland Empire and Orange County as part of a Super Bowl windfall that is expected to generate between $234 million and $477 million in economic spinoffs, including between $12 million and $22 million in regional tax revenue, according to one estimate.
“It’s huge,” said Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts, reflecting on the overall impact. “If you can imagine, there are people coming from all over the world to watch the Super Bowl. It’s not just the locals. It’s a big deal. Same thing for the airlines. There’s will have a lot of people from all over the country. It makes a difference. Business, hotels, everything else is involved and impacted.
And for local air carriers specializing in general aviation flights, it’s a boon, of course. It’s not uncommon for private jet passengers to pay between $5,000 and $10,000 per flight hour depending on the size and type of jet they book, and if you want to get really fancy within the range. $20,000 for something like a long-haul Boeing executive jet, complete with bedrooms, bathrooms, and your own personal beach (just kidding, no beach).
Hoe to handle traffic? It takes planning and a lot of it. “It’s about striking the right balance between required security and business results,” Aimer said.
For months, airports have worked with the FAA and NFL to ensure air traffic to the giant game remains manageable — and safe.
Much of this coordination has focused on a reservation system for aircraft parking at the mammoth LAX as well as smaller airports Van Nuys, Hollywood-Burbank, Long Beach, Hawthorne, John Wayne in the OC and the Ontario, officials said.
Even the Inland Empire will come into play “SBD International Airport plays an important and growing role in the Southern California region,” said airport spokeswoman Amber Casarez. “We anticipate additional air traffic in the week leading up to the Super Bowl.”
For example, in Hawthorne, Hunt and his staff are preparing five arrival slots and five departure slots every hour starting Feb. 9 for inbound and outbound private planes. Similar booking allocations are in place at other airports, depending on traffic size and expectations and airline curfews.
Major commercial airports are undoubtedly expecting an increase in commercial passenger traffic. But so are the smaller ones, bracing for a surge in private jet and single-engine arrivals.
At the Long Beach airport, officials are bracing for big increases on the commercial and private side.
“Specifically, the Monday after the Super Bowl, we expect to be the busiest day for the airport,” said Long Beach Airport spokeswoman Kate Kuykendall.
At Van Nuys Airport – long a hub for the jet-set crowd, it is one of Los Angeles’ global airports along with LAX – an additional 350 arrivals are expected from Feb. 6 to Feb. 14.
“It’s hard to say how many are directly related to the Super Bowl since all flights during this time require reservations,” LAWA spokeswoman Diana Sanchez said.
Nonetheless, Van Nuys also worked within the FAA’s Super Bowl reservation system.
“The goal of the reservation system is to shorten departure times and allow planes to leave the area in the safest and fastest way possible,” Sanchez said. “There will be strong demand for charters from all airports in the region, so airports participating in the reservation system will help spread the demand.”
This request is not limited to the tracks in the immediate vicinity of the game. In fact, “proximity” is all relative, depending on where you come from.
“This is the kind of event that generates a lot of business and private jet traffic,” said Steve Lambert, Ontario International Airport spokesperson. “While we haven’t seen that yet, we are certainly available and prepared for any increase in demand.”
FAA officials say they expect to see an increase in air traffic starting late next week, culminating in a temporary flight restriction – known as a TFR – in the Los Angeles area Sunday February 13. This means that, for safety and security reasons, certain flights – such as gliders, flight training aircraft and drones – will be prohibited or restricted, and access to airports will itself be restricted before , during and after the game.
The FAA has already warned pilots to prepare for the risk of rerouting, altitude restrictions and ground delays during peak demand periods in an area that stretches from Las Vegas to San Diego to LA.
The TFRs will not affect scheduled commercial flights to LAX, officials said.
A “drone-free zone” will also limit flights around SoFi Stadium before, during and after the game, according to the FAA.
Aimer said security will be massive for the game, including in the air.
“They take it pretty seriously,” he added.
But as Aimer noted, the immense air and ground security will combine with a massive economic infusion brought by the giant game.
Ultimately, air traffic will be part of a huge Super Bowl economic payday, according to a report by Micronomics Economic Research and Consulting.
After two years of the pandemic and decades since the last Super Bowl in the region, any kind of bump is a good bump.
Inglewood alone could see gains of around $52 million, with tax revenue remaining in the City of Inglewood reaching $1.8 million. The total number of overnight stays in local hotels will exceed 10,000; and the jobs added could approach 800, according to the report.
Back at the Hawthorne, Cristian Lopez, director of operations for Advance Air and Jet Center Los Angeles, was already seeing bookings increase rapidly on Friday. Staff members have been busy setting up a tent lounge at the site. The on-site restaurant, Eureka! should also be very busy.
“I think this will be our exit party as a destination,” Lopez said, echoing Stockton that this will be the busiest week for the airport operator.
Indeed. With the arrival of the sumptuous $5.5 billion SoFi stadium and many major events to come, airline operators see a bright future, foreshadowed by this Super Bowl. Major concerts, Wrestlemania 2023 and next year’s National College Football Championship are also on the horizon.
Lambert, Ont., pointed to a potentially even greater impact with the Olympics returning to Los Angeles in 2028.
“This whole region is making plans, and the impact is going to be huge on airports, hotels, restaurants and public transport,” he noted.
The Super Bowl, in a way, is a sign of things to come, many have said.
“This will be the first of many important events…we’re going to learn as we go,” said Barbara Hunt, vice president of business operations at Advance Air and Jet Center Los Angeles.