John Wayne Airport

John Wayne Airport
John Wayne Airport
John Wayne Airport Logo.svg
John Wayne Airport 01 Photo D Ramey Logan.jpg
SNA is located in California
Location of the Airport in California
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Orange County
Serves Orange County, California
Location Santa Ana, California
Elevation AMSL 56 ft / 17 m
Coordinates 33°40′32″N 117°52′06″W / 33.67556°N 117.86833°W / 33.67556; -117.86833
Direction Length Surface
ft m
1L/19R 5,701 1,738 Asphalt
1R/19L 2,887 880 Asphalt
Statistics (2010)
Total aircraft operations 200,278
GA operations 115,042
Passenger volume 8,663,452
Air Cargo/Tons 14.920M
Sources:DOT/BTS Website.[1], Airport Website.[2]

John Wayne Airport (IATA: SNAICAO: KSNAFAA LID: SNA) is an airport in an unincorporated area in Orange County, California, with its mailing address in the city of Santa Ana, which is also the county seat, hence the International Air Transport Association (IATA) airport code. The main entrance to the airport is off of MacArthur Blvd in Irvine, the city that abuts the airport from the north and east. Newport Beach and Costa Mesa form the southern and western boundaries, respectively, together with a small unincorporated area along the Corona del Mar (73) Freeway. Santa Ana lies just north, not actually touching the airport directly. Originally named Orange County Airport, the county Board of Supervisors renamed it in 1979 to honor the actor John Wayne, who resided in neighboring Newport Beach and died that year. It also became the first airport to be named after an entertainer.[3]

The main runway, at 5,701 feet (1,738 m), is the shortest of any major airport in the United States, and passenger airliners at the airport have never been larger than the Boeing 757. (Some larger cargo aircraft fly from SNA, such as the FedEx A310/300.) Some gates are built to handle planes up to the size of a Boeing 767, which could operate with payload/fuel load restrictions. No wide-body passenger airliners have ever been scheduled into SNA.

John Wayne Airport Runways

John Wayne Airport is the sole commercial airport within Orange County. General aviation operations outnumber commercial operations and several facilities at the airport serve the general aviation and corporate aviation community. The other general aviation airport within the county is Fullerton Municipal Airport. Other commercial airports within close proximity are Long Beach Airport, followed by Los Angeles International Airport and LA/Ontario International Airport. In 2008, John Wayne Airport was the second busiest airport in the area (by passenger count) with almost 9 million total passengers.[4]

The largest airlines at John Wayne Airport are Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines.[5]

John Wayne Airport is 14 miles (23 km) from Orange County's signature attraction - the Disneyland Resort. By contrast, Los Angeles International Airport is 35 miles (56 km) from Disneyland.

A statue of the airport's namesake welcomes passengers passing through the arrivals area on the lower level.[6]



FAA diagram of John Wayne Airport (SNA)

The first airstrip on the grounds was constructed in 1923, when Eddie Martin founded a flying school on land owned by the Irvine Company. It was purchased through a land swap by the County of Orange in 1939 and remains under the County's ownership and management.

After serving as a military base during World War II, it was returned by the federal government to the County with the stipulation that it remain open to all kinds of aviation uses.

During the 1950s the only airline flights were Bonanza's few flights between Los Angeles and Phoenix, via San Diego. In 1963 Bonanza started nonstop F27s to Phoenix, and to Las Vegas in 1965; in 1967 Air California started Electras nonstop to San Francisco, 48 flights a week each way. The first scheduled jet flights were Bonanza DC-9s later in 1967.

In 1967, the 22,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) Eddie Martin Terminal was constructed to accommodate 400,000 annual passengers. Remodeling added two passenger holding areas in 1974, a new baggage claim area in 1980 and a terminal annex building in 1982, bringing the facility to 29,000 square feet (2,700 m2).

Nonstop flights reached Salt Lake City in 1976-77 (Hughes DC9s), Denver in 1982 (Frontier MD80s), Dallas-Fort Worth in 1983 (American MD80s), Chicago in 1986 (AirCal 737-300s), and New York Kennedy in 1991 (America West 757s).

After the Orange County Airport was renamed the John Wayne Airport in 1979, Arrival and Departure Monitors in airports throughout the country continued to identify the airport as Orange County, which is the nickname for the OMB Metropolitan Designation, Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, California. To commemorate the Airport's namesake, the John Wayne Associates commissioned sculptor Robert Summers to create nine-foot bronze statue of "the Duke." The nine-foot statue, created at Hoka Hey Foundry in Dublin, Texas, was dedicated to the County on November 4, 1982. Today, the bronze statue is located in the Thomas F. Riley Terminal on the Arrival Level.

In 1990, the Thomas F. Riley Terminal opened to the public. The aging 29,000-square-foot (2,700 m2) Eddie Martin Terminal was replaced with a modern 337,900-square-foot (31,390 m2) facility. The new facility included 14 loading bridges, four baggage carousels, wide open spaces and distinct roadside arrival and departure levels. In 1994, the then-unused Eddie Martin Terminal was then demolished.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a new, larger airport was proposed for the nearby site of the then recently closed El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. However, after a series of political battles, combined with significant opposition from residents in the vicinity of El Toro, the proposal was defeated, and no new airport was built.

In 2004, Chris Norby, a member of the county Board of Supervisors, proposed changing the airport's name to The O.C. Airport, John Wayne Field, in light of the popularity of the TV series The O.C. He withdrew the idea after receiving negative publicity and angry responses from numerous local residents.

The airport has previously been served by Aloha Airlines (2001-2008), Virgin America (2009-2010) and Air Canada (2010).

Airfield information

John Wayne viewed from the south in 2009.

John Wayne Airport covers 500.82 acres (2.0267 km2) of land. The airport has multiple general aviation facilities, a main commercial airline building split into two terminal areas, and 2 paved runways.

  • Runway 1L/19R: 5,701 x 150 ft (46 m). (1,738 x 46 m), Commercial Aircraft, General Aviation serving most incoming and departing traffic to the west of the airport. ILS equipped.
  • Runway 1R/19L: 2,887 x 75 ft (23 m). (880 x 23 m), General Aviation, Light Aircraft

Aircraft noise abatement and curfew

A 1985 settlement agreement defined the scope of operation for John Wayne Airport in how it affects the local community. The area that lies directly South of John Wayne Airport is considered a noise sensitive area. The agreement in conjunction with a Phase 2 Commercial Airline Access Plan and Regulation controls the number of noisier operations (mainly commercial aircraft) allowed from the airport. Noise abatement enforcement is carried out with the aid of 10 permanent noise monitoring stations. These stations are placed in areas that exceed a Community Noise Equivalent Level (CNEL) of 65 dB.

The short primary runway (19R/1L), coupled with the local noise restrictions, can require a takeoff at or near full power (95-97% power). Some aircraft departing from the airport may cycle to full power while holding at the runway then release the brakes when engines are fully spooled up. On operations from runway 19R a steep climb may also be required to allow for a power reduction at about 500–700 feet for a quieter overflight over the city of Newport Beach. For 19R departures a left turn after departure to 175 degrees allows for a passage over Newport Beach within the confines of the noise abatement profile. Departures from 1L (normally during Santa Ana wind conditions) are not affected by these noise abatement procedures. Landings almost always include full flap extensions, and the use of full reverse thrust.

The county prohibits commercial departures between 10:00PM and 7:00AM (8:00AM on Sundays) and commercial arrivals between 11:00PM and 7:00AM (8:00AM on Sundays). Exceptions can be made for an emergency, mechanical, air traffic control or weather delay, which is beyond the control of the airline.

In 2003, the settlement agreement was amended to increase operations, but focused on increases only for aircraft meeting the lowest noise signatures.

Access and noise reports are published by the airport and are available to the public. These reports are generated on a regular basis and outline curfew exceptions per carrier and overall noise impact.[7]



The main passenger terminal, the Thomas F. Riley Terminal, is named for the late county supervisor who lobbied for the airport's expansion in the 1980s. The Thomas F. Riley Terminal is divided into two terminal areas, A and B, with a temporary satellite building serving commuter flights in Terminal A (a temporary commuter satellite building in Terminal B was closed due to continuing Terminal C construction). A new Terminal, Terminal C is being built on the Southern end of Terminal B will and will provide six more bridged aircraft gates. Permanent commuter facilities for the existing Terminal A and for the new Terminal C are also included in the improvement project. The improvements are allowed under amendments added in 2003 to the 1985 settlement agreement with the local community.

Terminal A and B are both within the same Thomas F. Riley building and security screened passengers can move between both terminal areas. Security screening lanes exist in both terminal areas right next to check in. Both security screening areas also have a "fast track" lane for first class and elite frequent fliers.

Both Terminal A and B contain restaurants, bars and shops, with a themed restaurant located in the air side connecting area of both terminals. In the upper rotunda above the themed restaurant is an American Airlines Admirals Club (operating out of Terminal A) and a United Airlines Red Carpet Club ( operating out of Terminal B). Complimentary Wi-Fi is provided in the terminals.

Four baggage claim belts are in the arrivals area, two on the Terminal A side and two on the Terminal B side. Immediately outside the baggage claim is the curbside arrivals pickup area. Rental car offices are in between both baggage claim areas with most rental agencies on site in the lower levels of the parking facility across the arrivals pickup area. Across the roadway from the arrivals pickup area is an island for public transportation including taxis, buses and the Disneyland Resort Express.

Improvement program and new Terminal C

New Terminal Layout
Terminal C Near Completed New Gates, August 2011

The County of Orange approved the JWA Improvement Program [1] to increase the terminal size and accommodate six additional bridged gates with six commuter slots. An extension to the south of the current Terminal B will house the new bridged passenger boarding gates to be called Terminal C. Three new baggage claim carousels will be built in the arrivals area of Terminal C. A new central plant with power generation and cooling systems will also be part of the improvement project.

In order to make room for the new Terminal C, existing parking garage B1 was removed in 2009.[8] A replacement parking garage was completed in late 2010 and will open when Terminal C is completed. Additionally general improvements are being made to the existing Terminal A and B facilities. The improvements are part of a multi-year program that is to be completed in stages allowing for continual operation and minimal disruption to the airport.

Temporary regional jet facilities were added to both the Terminal A and B ground level areas. Both facilities accommodate 2 gate areas and can be used for regional jet and regular commercial aircraft via air stair boarding. Both facilities are accessed from the outside doorway one level below at each end of the terminal. As part of the Airport Improvement Program, permanent commuter holdroom facilities are being constructed creating North and South Commuter Holdrooms.

Terminals A and B in the Riley Terminal will also be renovated to match the new Terminal C. All jet bridges will be replaced in the existing terminals and a new baggage system will also be introduced. Two gates in the existing terminal will be modified to handle international arrivals requiring Customs and Border Protection Processing (CBP). Flights from Canada go through US CBP processing in Canada however local CBP presence is required for any contingencies, formal CBP processing at John Wayne Airport is to support destinations such as Mexico.

Terminals A, B and C will be connected both airside (after security) and before security.

Construction of the improvement program is underway. The existing Remain-Over-Night location for commercial aircraft has been relocated[9] and is being used as temporary public vehicle Parking Lot C. The new parking has been completed however will not open until Terminal C opens. A new central utilities plant was also built to support all the terminals and became operational in April 2011.

Terminal C opened on November 14, 2011.[10]

New Airline Terminal Locations

Southwest and Frontier were previously confirmed for Terminal C along with any new carriers. [11]

Terminal A: American Airlines, WestJet, Delta Airlines and Alaska Airlines
Terminal B: Continental Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways
Terminal C: Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines

Airlines and destinations

A United Airlines 757 at John Wayne Airport in March 2007
Airlines Destinations Terminal
Alaska Airlines Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma A
American Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth A
Continental Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Houston-Intercontinental, Newark
Seasonal: Honolulu, Kahului [ends January 2][12]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City A
Delta Connection operated by SkyWest Airlines Salt Lake City A
Delta Connection operated by Compass Airlines Salt Lake City [Begins January 1, 2012] A
Frontier Airlines Denver C
Southwest Airlines Chicago-Midway, Denver, Las Vegas, Oakland, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose (CA) C
United Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, San Francisco B
United Express operated by SkyWest Airlines Denver, San Francisco
Seasonal: Mammoth Lakes [begins December 16, 2011][13]
US Airways Phoenix B
US Airways Express operated by Mesa Airlines Phoenix B
WestJet Vancouver
Seasonal: Calgary

International service

AirTran Airways has filed for authority to fly to Cabo San Lucas and Mexico City effective May, 2012. It would be the first International service to use the new FIS in Terminal C.[14]

WestJet provides service to Vancouver (began May 2011) and Calgary (began June 2011). Both flights from Canada complete Immigrations and Customs formalities in Canada via United States Border Preclearance.

John Wayne Airport previously had service from Alaska Airlines to Vancouver (dropped in 2002), Air Canada to Toronto (dropped in 2010).

Two gates in Terminal B are being modified to support international arrivals from countries without United States Border Preclearance. This will potentially open the airport to flights from Mexico and possibly Central American or Caribbean countries where the runway length and aircraft provides sufficient nonstop range.

Scheduled Cargo Service

Airlines Destinations
FedEx Express Memphis, Oakland
UPS Airlines Louisville, Phoenix, Ontario

Top Destinations

Busiest Domestic Routes from SNA (May 2010 - April 2011)[15]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Arizona Phoenix, Arizona 499,000 Southwest, US Airways
2 California San Francisco, California 460,000 Southwest, United
3 Texas Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 439,000 American
4 Washington (state) Seattle, Washington 435,000 Alaska
5 Colorado Denver, Colorado 426,000 Frontier, Southwest, United
6 Illinois Chicago, Illinois (ORD) 405,000 American, United
7 California San Jose, California 354,000 Southwest
8 California Oakland, California 300,000 Southwest
9 California Sacramento, CA 226,000 Southwest
10 Nevada Las Vegas, NV 223,000 Southwest

Ground Transportation


The airport is served by OCTA routes 76 and 212. Both routes run only on weekdays.

Irvine iShuttle

The City of Irvine's iShuttle route A serves the airport and Tustin Metrolink station. The iShuttle service runs only during weekday rush hours. Route A services John Wayne Airport.

Taxis and Private Shuttles

Taxis and private shuttles are also available from the Ground Transportation Center located outside the lower level between Terminal A and B.

Disneyland Resort Express

The Disneyland Resort Express provides regular service from the airport to Disneyland Resort and Anaheim Resort Hotels.

Car Rental

On site car rentals are available in the basement level of the Parking A2/B2 garages. Off site car rental shuttles are available at the Ground Transportation Center.


The airport has 3 parking garages open in the main terminal area, A1, A2 and B2. A Parking Lot C is available with free shuttle service to the terminals, this lot will be replaced with terminal connected parking structure C when Terminal C opens. An off airport parking lot (Main Street Parking) is also available at 1512 Main Street in Irvine with free shuttle service to the terminals.

Aircraft incidents

On February 17, 1981, Air California (AirCal) Flight 336 (a Boeing 737-200), flying from San Jose, California, to John Wayne Airport, crashed upon initiating a go-around. The crew was cleared for a visual approach to Runway 19R while the controller had cleared another flight to take off from 19R. Upon realizing the mistake, the controller ordered Air California 336 to go around and the other aircraft to abort its takeoff, which it did. The captain of the landing Air California aircraft delayed the go-around then initiated a gear up procedure before a positive rate of climb was achieved, causing the plane to stall. The 737 then banked left at low altitude causing the left wingtip to make contact with the runway. Then the nose came down and struck the ground and the airplane pirouetted and inverted and skidded down the runway before coming to rest in the margin. A fire started, four passengers sustained minor injuries, and 91 other passengers and 5 crew exited without incident. The aircraft, registration number N468AC, was damaged beyond repair and was written off.[16]

On August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines Flight 255, (a McDonell-Douglas MD-82) flying from Detroit Metro Airport to John Wayne Airport with an intermediate stop at Phoenix, Arizona, crashed during takeoff from Detroit, killing 154 of 155 passengers and crew on board and two persons on the ground. One of the contributing factors in the crash was the crew's concern about arriving at John Wayne Airport before the 11:00 p.m. commercial airline arrival curfew.

On December 15, 1993, a chartered IAI Westwind business jet carrying two flightcrew members and three passengers (including Rich Snyder, president of In-N-Out Burger), crashed while on approach to John Wayne Airport. All five occupants were killed in the crash. The aircraft, which departed Brackett Field, thirty miles to the north in La Verne, California, followed a Boeing 757 for landing, became caught in the 757's wake turbulence, rolled into a deep descent and crashed near the intersection of State Route 55 and Edinger Avenue. The crash investigation led to the FAA requirement for an adequate period between heavy aircraft and following light aircraft to allow wake turbulence to diminish.[17]

See also

Portal icon Greater Los Angeles portal
Portal icon Aviation portal


  1. ^ DOT Research and Technology Statistics
  2. ^ Airport Statistics (See 2010 YTD)
  3. ^ "John Wayne Airport (SNA) History". John Wayne Airport official website. 
  4. ^ Airport Council Internation - Airport Traffic Reports
  5. ^ John Wayne Airport Statistics, June 2009
  6. ^ "John Wayne Airport (SNA) - John Wayne Statue". John Wayne Airport. June 2009. 
  7. ^ John Wayne Airport (SNA) Quarterly Noise Abatement Reports
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ New Non-Stop Winter Flights From San Diego and Orange County and Expanded Service from San Francisco to Mammoth Mountain Announced by United Airlines, Business Wire ,September 20, 2011, Retrieved 2011-09-20
  14. ^
  15. ^ County, CA: John Wayne Airport&carrier=FACTS
  16. ^ "FAA Incident Report - Air California N486AC - Feb 17th, 1981". FAA. 1981. 
  17. ^ "FAA Incident Report - Israel Aircraft Industries LAX94FA073 - Dec 15th, 1993". FAA. 1993. 

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