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JSX Has Offered Exceptional Airline Service to the People of Orange County for Years––Now Is Not the Time to Say Goodbye

Written By: Erik Hale
Photography Provided By: JSX JSX Orange County Flights

JSX, formerly known as JetSuiteX, has been providing air service from a private terminal at John Wayne Airport since June 2018. The airline has become extremely popular locally by offering routes to Las Vegas and the Bay Area and even Mammoth during ski season at prices competitive with the major airlines. Their planes are equipped with  thirty seats, allowing them to offer their guests an experience similar to flying semi-privately at a fraction of the cost.

Having flown with JSX in the past, I personally received an email on Friday that stated:

Subject: PLEASE READ: We Need Your Help to Keep JSX Flying in Orange County Airport

An excerpt from that email stated:

“Businesses at the airport are being required by the county to sign a new lease that specifically prevents them from handling JSX flights as of January 1, 2021. And, JSX’s award-winning style of operation is not being allowed in the main airport terminal.”

We reached out to JSX and were subsequently contacted by their CEO, Alex Wilcox, to discern why a company that brings in so much tax revenue to Orange County was essentially being asked to leave in e90 days.

Alex had spoken with John Wayne Airport Director Mr. Barry Rondinella when he found out from his leasor that his contract would not be extended into the new year. Alex said that Mr. Rondinella informed him that they could no longer accommodate JSX in a private FBO; the only way to continue to operate would be through a gate in the main terminal that utilizes TSA. Below is a detailed and exclusive Q&A with Wilcox that navigates the issue at hand.

Locale: When did you find out that your lease would not be renewed?

Alex Wilcox: We found out second hand that our lease was not being renewed, and when I reached out to Mr. Rondinella, he confirmed that it was, in fact, true. I asked what his plan was and where he planned to accommodate JSX, as we were happy to work with him. Mr. Rondinella informed me that we would only be allowed to work from inside the main terminal, and there are many issues with that for our business model.

Locale: What are some of those issues that would make it difficult for you to move into the terminal?

AW: For one, we operate at many airports that do not offer TSA service, and combining the two is very difficult. Another issue is that our business model at every airport we fly out of is to provide a superior level of service to our guests that they do not receive waiting in lines to fly commercial. 

Locale: Has the model changed since you started? Are you doing something different that would make this change necessary now?

AW: No, we are operating as we always have.

Locale: The airport claims that the FBOs ticked the box in their lease applications saying they would not serve you. Is that true?

AW: No, the founding partner of ACI Jet said that they had ticked “yes” and would serve us. They were later told by airport staff that if they did not tick “no” their application would be rejected.  The airport forced them to tick no. It was not voluntary.  Moreover, ACI tried to reject the restriction from the lease and they were told again by the airport that this language was 100 percent non-negotiable.  This was not coming from the FBO’s it was coming from the airport director.

Locale: Are you contributing to noise? I know that is a common complaint about JWA from locals.

AW: Our planes are the quietest jets that fly out of JWA, and they just announced that Spirit Airlines would begin flights on November 17.

Locale: I just checked the press release for Spirit Airlines and JWA. It says they are welcoming Spirit to JWA on November 17, flying routes from Orange County to Oakland and Las Vegas. Do you feel that the addition of Spirit Airlines might be affecting this decision?

AW: That’s impossible to know but it is possible.

Locale: In your opinion, what would the economic loss of losing JSX cost Orange County?

AW: I would expect the tax loss to be around $3 million, with the overall economic impact near $25 million. It would also affect the employment of 100 local people.

Locale: Your email asks that people who support you email the Orange County Board of Supervisors. How many people have emailed this weekend, and what changes do you hope to see?

AW: We have received about 5,000 supportive emails this weekend. We want to continue to operate at our current location or an acceptable location other than the main terminal while providing exceptional and award-winning service to our customers in Orange County.

Locale: When you mentioned that to Mr. Rondinella, what was his response?

AW: He said, “It is what it is.”

We reached out to the OCAir office for their take on the proceedings this week and received this reply from Deanne Thompson, Public Affairs Manager. JSX Orange County Flights

One of the questions asked of the potential FBOs in the RFP Questionnaire was whether they intend to sublease to a regularly scheduled commercial service through their FBO; each of the respondents selected for negotiation marked “No.”

Community residents, including the City of Newport Beach, continue to communicate and advocate for the inclusion of various FBO lease terms, including prohibiting commercial airlines, such as JSX, from operating out of an FBO. You can find more information about the City’s efforts at newportbeachca.gov/gaip 

The Orange County Board of Supervisors will consider and vote on the proposed FBO leases at their meeting on Tuesday, September 15.  The leases include a provision that states that the FBOs shall not permit the operation of a Regularly Scheduled Commercial User.

JetSuiteX may operate from the Thomas F. Riley Terminal at John Wayne Airport, in the same manner as the other commercial and commuter carriers. 

If you feel strongly about this issue on either side, we advise that you email both parties with an email subject regarding JSX at JWA to response@ocgov.com and copy orangecounty@jsx.com. You can also attend the meeting in person to share your views, please wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Location: 333 W. Santa Ana Blvd, Santa Ana, CA 92701
Date: Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Time: 9:30 am (arrive no later than 9am) JSX Orange County Flights

JSX Orange County Flights

Note: JSX has been an advertising partner of LOCALE Magazine in the past but is not a current client. JSX Orange County Flights