Huge Spike in Curfew Violations at San Diego Airport in 2022

by on April 18, 2023 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

70% Increase Over Previous Year

by Mark J. Rochester / inewsource /  April 14, 2023

The world returning to a more normal pace of life resulted in a 70% increase over the previous year in the number of jet planes taking off in violation of the San Diego International Airport’s late night curfew restrictions, according to data analyzed by inewsource.

Last year, 89 planes departed the airport after the 11:30 p.m. curfew deadline, compared to only 52 the year before. The number of planes violating the curfew had been on a steady decline the last several years, dropping down to a low of 18 in 2020.  During the six years studied by inewsource, there were 337 violations recorded by the airport authority.

The curfew, established in 1976, is an effort to minimize the noise of departing aircraft. Planes taking off are much louder than ones landing at the airport, said Sjohnna Knack,  program manager for airport noise mitigation for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. The first violation costs airlines $2,000, the second violation earns a $6,000 fine and the third carries a $10,000 fine. Airlines get a clean slate every six months, but any new fines are multiplied by the total number of violations during the previous six months.

inewsource requested airport authority records on the number of violations, the reasons listed for the late departures and any fines paid by the airlines since 2017. Of the 337 violations reported by the authority, less than half paid fines. Nearly half the fines issued during those six years were for $2,000.

But fines haven’t seemed to deter the airlines from departing after the curfew.

Among the individual airlines, JetBlue and American airlines had the largest number of violations over the years, with 59 and 57 respectively, far ahead of the other airlines in the top 10. Twenty of those flights were in 2022. JetBlue has been fined more than $600,000 during the last six years. Combined, airlines were fined more than $1.3 million.

Why this matters
San Diego is one of few cities with a curfew on airplanes taking off. But the rule, intended to limit overnight noise coming from the downtown airport, is often violated despite some airlines paying hefty fines. San Diego is among a handful of cities around the country that has had a deadline for plane departures. The airport authority has a noise department that monitors all departures after 11:30 p.m. When one occurs, a panel determines whether there was a valid reason for the delay,  such as weather conditions or a medical emergency.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Gravitas April 19, 2023 at 9:09 am

Thanks for posting this truth…the flights have been arriving at 5am…once 5:30…and in violation of rules….coming in earlier and earlier and later and later at night. Thanks for putting it all together. Point Loma thanks you.


Sorry not Sorry April 19, 2023 at 10:31 am

It has been a number of years since I worked as SAN, but I do believe the “curfew” is only applicable to departing aircraft. Arriving aircraft do not have any restrictions. Again, I am not certain of this, I only know it used to be this way.


Vern April 19, 2023 at 7:33 pm

Correct. The curfew only applies to departing aircraft.


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