Sunday, Aug. 9, 2009 | When two airport authority board members traveled with regional leaders last October on a trade mission to London, the flying public paid their way.
Though they had the option to pay $950 to fly economy, authority Chairman Bob Watkins and board member Bruce Boland upgraded to business-class fares. So the public paid $11,000 for the tickets instead of $1,900.
If you flew out of Lindbergh Field last year, fees you paid went toward Watkins’ hotel room because he chose to arrive early in London. Your money was used for him to attend a $350 reception for the San Diego Chargers, who were playing a game against the New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium.
And your money was used to pay $1,200 for tickets so Watkins and a guest could attend the Chargers-Saints game. Watkins said he took a member of Parliament involved with airport security issues. Their seats were on the 5-yard line.
The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority has a $121 million budget, which it derives from public money. Those sources include rent paid by the airport stores that charge you $3.02 for a bottle of water, as well as a $4.50 charge you pay for every flight out of San Diego. The budget also stems from parking revenue, car-rental fees and airline fees.
Two years ago, when a San Diego Union-Tribune story focused attention on the authority’s lavish expenses, the airport authority’s leaders promised reform. New policies were drafted, approved.