John Wayne Airport

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John Wayne Airport
John Wayne Airport Logo.svg
John Wayne Airport 01 Photo D Ramey Logan.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner Orange County
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; -117.86833Coordinates: 33°40′32″N 117°52′06″W / 33.67556°N 117.86833°W / 33.67556; -117.86833
A map with a grid overlay showing the terminals runways and other structures of the airport.
FAA airport diagram
SNA is located in Anaheim, California
Location of airport in Central Orange County
Direction Length Surface
ft m
2L/20R 5,701 1,738 Asphalt
2R/20L 2,887 880 Asphalt
Statistics (2013)
Total aircraft operations 248,225
GA operations 163,535
Passenger volume 9,232,789
Air Cargo/Tons 17,545
Sources: DOT/BTS,[1] Airport website[2]

John Wayne Airport (IATA: SNA[3]ICAO: KSNAFAA LID: SNA)[4] is an international airport in Orange County, California, with its mailing address in the city of Santa Ana, hence the IATA airport code. The entrance to the airport is off MacArthur Blvd in Irvine, the city that abuts the airport on the north and east. Newport Beach and Costa Mesa form the southern and western boundaries along with a small unincorporated area along the Corona del Mar (73) Freeway. Santa Ana is just north, not actually touching the airport. Originally named Orange County Airport, the county Board of Supervisors renamed it in 1979 to honor actor John Wayne, who lived in neighboring Newport Beach and died that year.

The National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015 categorized it as a primary commercial service airport since it has over 10,000 passenger boardings per year.[5] Federal Aviation Administration records say the airport had 4,247,802 enplanements in calendar year 2011, a decrease from 4,278,623 in 2010.[6]

John Wayne Airport Terminal

John Wayne International Airport is the sole commercial airport in 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 in the county is Fullerton Municipal Airport. Other commercial airports nearby are Long Beach Airport, 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.[7]

As of 2009, the largest airlines at John Wayne Airport were Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, Air Tran, and Alaska Airlines.[8]

The main runway, at 5,701 feet (1,738 m), is one of 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 at SNA.

John Wayne Airport is 14 miles (23 km) from Orange County's main attraction – the Disneyland Resort. (Los Angeles International Airport is 35 miles (56 km) from Disneyland.)

A statue of the airport's namesake welcomes passengers in the arrivals area on the lower level.[9]

Airfield information[edit]

John Wayne Airport covers 500.82 acres (2.0267 km2). The airport has multiple general aviation facilities, an airline concourse building split into three terminal areas, and 2 paved runways.

The shorter Runway 20L at SNA, circa 2014
  • Runway 2L/20R: 5,701 by 150 feet (1,738 m × 46 m), used by commercial aircraft and general aviation serving most incoming and departing traffic to the west of the airport. This runway is ILS equipped.
  • Runway 2R/20L: 2,887 by 75 feet (880 m × 23 m), used by smaller general aviation aircraft and light aircraft.


Orange County Airport tower, 1950s

The first airstrip on the grounds was constructed in 1923, when Eddie Martin started giving biplane rides on land owned by The Irvine Company, initially without their permission.[10]

Orange County Airport, 1950s

Martin and James Irvine made a deal for a five-year lease on 80 acres for $35 a month and 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.

In 1926, Eddie Martin was finally able to acquire a hangar for his airport, a portable wooden building which sold for $350.

The earliest dated depiction of Martin Airport which has been located was on a 1929 AAA street map. It depicted Eddie Martin Airport as having 2 runways (oriented northwest/southeast & northeast/southwest), with 2 buildings on the north side of the field. The field was depicted as a rectangular property, located south of the intersection of Newport Avenue & Main Street. In 1935 Howard Hughes staged his world speed record-setting flight from the Eddie Martin Airport.

Orange County Airport artist's concept, 1960s

At some point between 1940 and 1945, the Santa Ana Army Airfield was established on land adjacent to Martin Field, to the south. The two fields were not on the same property. However, flight operations at Santa Ana AAF resulted in the closure of Martin Field at this point.

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

Orange County Airport terminal, circa 1967

In addition to continuing to serve aviation, the field became an important drag racing center. From 1950 to 1959, C.J. "Pappy" Hart[11] and Creighton Hunter operated the Santa Ana Drag Strip, credited for being the world's first commercial drag strip,[12] on the airport runway every Sunday, when it was closed to air traffic.

The original single runway was 4,800 feet (1,500 m) long, oriented on a magnetic heading of 210 degrees (Runway 21) and 30 degrees (Runway 3). In 1964 the airport was rebuilt, with its present two parallel runway configuration, oriented 190 degrees and 10 degrees magnetic. The longer runway, 19R(now 20R), at 5,701 feet (1,738 m), is only 901 feet (275 m) longer than the old Runway 21 but long enough to legally accommodate jet airliners. A full instrument landing system (ILS) was also installed to serve commercial operations.

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 Electra nonstops to San Francisco, 48 flights a week each way. The first scheduled jet flights were Bonanza DC-9s later in 1967.

Orange County Airport terminal, 1971
Orange County Airport, circa 1970s

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).

Inside the control tower at John Wayne Airport, circa 1980

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).

Air Cal jet at John Wayne Airport, 1981
Terminal Groundbreaking 1988, October 1988

After the Orange County Airport was renamed John Wayne Airport in 1979, the John Wayne Associates commissioned sculptor Robert Summers to create a bronze statue of "the Duke." The 9-foot (2.7 m) statue, created at Hoka Hey Foundry in Dublin, Texas, was dedicated to the County on November 4, 1982. Today, the bronze statue is in the Thomas F. Riley Terminal on the Arrival Level.

In 1990, the Thomas F. Riley Terminal opened. 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 demolished.

Statue of John Wayne at SNA

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 2011, additional terminal space was added and existing terminals were refreshed as part of a $543 million expansion project.[13] A new Terminal C with six additional gates was built along with dedicated commuter gate areas in the new Terminal C and new commuter facilities in Terminal A. A new parking lot C was added along with additional support facilities such as a Central Utility plant.


Terminal C Gate Areas
Terminal C Commuter Gates

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 three terminal areas, A, B and C with dedicated commuter gate areas at the North end of Terminal A and South end of Terminal C.

All three terminals, A, B and C, are within the same Thomas F. Riley building and security screened passengers can move "airside" between all terminal areas. Security screening lanes exist in all three terminals adjacent to check in. All security screening areas also have a "fast track" lane for first class and elite frequent fliers. Switching between terminals indoors before security "landside" is also possible, the check in counter areas between all three terminals have connecting walkways to allow access between all terminals. Complimentary Wi-Fi is provided in all three terminals.

Terminals A and B[edit]

Terminals A and B were built in 1990 to replace the former Eddie Martin Terminal which was closed upon the new terminals' opening. In November 2011, Terminal A added a dedicated commuter gate area, along with refreshed gates, signage and information displays at both Terminals A and B.

Terminals A and B were designed by Gensler & Associates, Leason Pomeroy Associates, and Thompson Consultants International.[14] They 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 Club (operating out of Terminal B).

Terminal C[edit]

Terminal C opened in November 2011 and added seven new gates, a dedicated commuter gate area and new eateries and retail.

Terminal C also provides a U.S. Customs and Border Protection FIS/Federal Inspection Service for international flights that do not have pre-clearance. Two arrival gates feed into the FIS and passengers once cleared exit at the south end of the Terminal C arrivals area. The FIS facility has Global Entry kiosks for registered users to shorten processing time. The FIS facility was designed by Gensler.[15]

Arrivals level[edit]

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

International service[edit]

Alaska Airlines provided international service to Vancouver in 2002 however shortly after launch a stop in Seattle (or change of planes) was required as John Wayne Airport was not authorized for pre-clearance or international flights by U.S. agencies.[16]

On April 8, 2010, Canada's largest airline, Air Canada, started flights to Toronto, Canada, becoming the first ever international airline that served John Wayne Airport.[17] However, it ceased flights later that year.[18]

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

Canadian airline WestJet provides non-stop year round service to Vancouver (began May 2011). WestJet did provide seasonal service to Calgary but it was cancelled in 2013.

Flights from Canada complete immigrations and customs formalities in Canada via United States border preclearance.

Southwest Airlines subsidiary AirTran Airways began new service in June 2012 from John Wayne Airport to Cabo San Lucas and Mexico City. It was the first international service to use the new FIS in Terminal C.[19]

Mexico's Interjet began new service in October 2012 from John Wayne Airport to Guadalajara and Mexico City.[20][21] It ended both flights in July 2014 as the airport officials are seeking a replacement.[22] On 12 September 2014, Volaris, the rival low-cost carrier, is considering plans to begin flights to John Wayne Airport.[23]

Aircraft noise abatement and curfew[edit]

Main article: Aircraft noise
Departing Jets wait for 7am to depart from John Wayne Airport, Feb 14, 2015
John Wayne Airport: Former Runway Markings of 19 Right/1 Left (19R/1L) prior to runway heading modification due to polar shift

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 (20R/2L), 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. (shortfield procedure) On operations from runway 20R a steep climb may also be required to allow for a power reduction at about 500 to 700 feet (150–210 m) for a quieter overflight over the city of Newport Beach. For 20R 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 2L (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.[24]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


The following airlines offer scheduled passenger service. All international arrivals (excluding flights from destinations with U.S. border preclearance) are processed in Terminal C.

All cities with nonstop service to/from SNA (November 2013)
Airlines Destinations Terminal
Alaska Airlines Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma A
American Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix[25] A
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City A
Delta Connection Salt Lake City A
Frontier Airlines Denver C
Southwest Airlines Austin (begins June 25, 2015), Chicago-Midway (begins June 28, 2015),[26] Dallas-Love, Denver, Houston-Hobby, Mexico City, Las Vegas, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland (OR) (begins August 9, 2015),[27] Puerto Vallarta (begins June 7, 2015),[28] Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San José del Cabo, Seattle/Tacoma (begins June 28, 2015)[29] C
United Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Houston-Intercontinental, Newark, San Francisco B
United Express Denver, San Francisco B
US Airways Phoenix B
WestJet Vancouver A

General aviation[edit]

Private Jets on the tarmac at John Wayne Airport at Atlantic Aviation

The airport is the home base for approximately 450 general aviation aircraft.[30]
The General Aviation Master Plan adopted in the early 1990s limits the number of FBOs (Fixed-base operator) at John Wayne Airport to two, currently Atlantic Aviation and Signature Flight Support. In addition to supporting fuel sales and other aircraft services, these companies lease facilities to flight training, charter, and aircraft maintenance businesses.


Airlines Destinations
FedEx Express Memphis
UPS Airlines Louisville


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from SNA (Jan 2014 - Dec 2014)[31]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Phoenix, Arizona (PHX) 489,000 Southwest, US Airways
2 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 433,000 American
3 Denver, Colorado 433,000 Frontier, Southwest, United
4 San Francisco, California 428,000 United, Southwest
5 San Jose, California 318,000 Southwest
6 Oakland, California 305,000 Southwest
7 Seattle/Tacoma, Washington 295,000 Alaska
8 Chicago-O'Hare, Illinois 263,000 American, United
9 Las Vegas, Nevada 259,000 Southwest
10 Sacramento, California 250,000 Southwest

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at John Wayne Airport, 1990 thru 2014[32] [33]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
2010 8,663,452 2000 7,772,801 1990 4,586,596
2009 8,705,199 1999 7,470,415
2008 8,989,603 1998 7,460,179
2007 9,979,699 1997 7,718,415
2006 9,613,480 1996 7,307,750
2005 9,627,032 1995 7,159,154
2014 9,386,033 2004 9,272,394 1994 6,773,977
2013 9,232,789 2003 8,535,130 1993 6,141,981
2012 8,857,944 2002 7,903,066 1992 5,672,603
2011 8,609,008 2001 7,324,557 1991 5,345,284

Ground transportation[edit]


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

Irvine iShuttle[edit]

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 International Airport.[34]

Taxis and private shuttles[edit]

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[edit]

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

Car rental[edit]

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 4 parking garages open in the main terminal area, A1, A2, B2 and C. Valet parking is available between at a drop off/pick up area Terminals A and B and between Terminals B and C. 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[edit]

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 the flight 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, registered N468AC, was damaged beyond repair and was written off.[35]

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.[36]

John Wayne Airport has been rated as one of the nation's scariest airports.[37] In order to compensate for a short runway, and to comply with local noise restrictions, pilots frequently take off at an angle of 20 to 25 degrees, compared to 10 to 15 degrees at other airports.[38]

Lyon Air Museum[edit]

The Lyon Air Museum is located in a hangar on the west side of the airport. Founded by Major General William Lyon, the Lyon Air Museum is collocated with Martin Aviation. The museum exhibit contains military aircraft, as well as some rare vehicles and related memorabilia, with an emphasis on World War II. In May 2013, the museum also hosted a flight experience program, allowing the public the opportunity to fly in a historic B-17 or B-24.[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "DOT Research and Technology Statistics". Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), U.S. Department of Transportation. 
  2. ^ "Airport Statistics". John Wayne Airport, Orange County.  (see 2012 YTD)
  3. ^ "IATA Airport Code Search (SNA: Santa Ana / John Wayne)". International Air Transport Association. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  4. ^ "General Information". John Wayne Airport, Orange County. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  5. ^ "2011–2015 NPIAS Report, Appendix A" (PDF, 2.03 MB). National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Enplanements for CY 2011" (PDF, 1.7 MB). CY 2011 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. October 9, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Airport Traffic Reports". Airport Council International. [dead link]
  8. ^ John Wayne Airport Statistics, June 2009
  9. ^ "John Wayne Statue". John Wayne Airport, Orange County. June 2009. 
  10. ^ Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: California: Central Orange County. Retrieved on July 21, 2013.
  11. ^ | Pappy Hart
  12. ^ | commercial drag strip,
  13. ^ Milbourn, Mary Ann (November 10, 2012). "New services clicking, JWA seeking more users". The Orange County Register. p. Business 1. 
  14. ^ Whiteson, Leon (September 4, 1990). "John Wayne Airport: User Friendly: Riley Terminal Makes Getting On, Off Planes as Simple as Possible". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  15. ^ Nelson, Nicole (November–December 2011). "John Wayne Airport Adds Third Passenger Terminal". Airport Improvement Magazine. 
  16. ^ "Nonstop now stops... here". Orange County Register (The Seattle Times). May 23, 2002. Retrieved July 31, 2012. 
  17. ^ Schott, Kristen (April 6, 2010). "Air Canada starts service at JWA Thursday". OC Metro. Retrieved September 17, 2012. 
  18. ^ Warner, Gary (October 25, 2010). "Air Canada ending O.C. service". Orange County Register. Retrieved September 17, 2012. 
  19. ^ Owen, Bill (November 13, 2011). "Summer Surprises – Southwest and Airtran Schedules Now Open for Sale Through August 10, 2012". Southwest Airlines blog. 
  20. ^ Warner, Gary A. (September 12, 2012). "Interjet gets county approval to operate from JWA". Orange County Register. 
  21. ^ Warner, Gary A. (September 7, 2012). "Mexican airline passes JWA noise test". Orange County Register. 
  22. ^ Ann Milbourn, Mary (13 June 2014). "Interjet ends Mexico flights at John Wayne". The Orange County Register (Orange County Register). Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  23. ^ Maio, Pat (12 September 2014). "Mexican discount airline targets L.A. area". Los Angeles Register (Los Angeles Register). Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  24. ^ "Quarterly Noise Abatement Reports". John Wayne Airport, Orange County. 
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ | General Aviation at SNA
  31. ^ . Bureau of Transportation Statistics. May 2014,%20CA:%20John%20Wayne%20Airport-Orange%20County&carrier=FACTS.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. ^ John Wayne Airport Facts at a Glance. Retrieved on May 3, 2014.
  33. ^ John Wayne Airport News Release Retrieved on Feb 12, 2015.
  34. ^ "Route Info". City of Irvine. 
  35. ^ "Incident Report – Air California N486AC – February 17, 1981". National Transportation Safety Board. 1981. 
  36. ^ "Incident Report – Israel Aircraft Industries LAX94FA073 – December 15, 1993". National Transportation Safety Board. 1993. 
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ "The Collings Foundation – Wings of Freedom Tour". Retrieved August 22, 2013. 

External links[edit]