Update May 24: The Chamber’s board of directors voted Thursday, May 24, to support a resolution in support of the effort to return control of the L.A./Ontario International Airport to the City of Ontario.
At issue is the rapidly declining number of airlines and flights at Ontario, leading to a dramatic decline in businesses in and around the airport. The number of passengers at Ontario has decreased almost 30% since 2007 and was lower in 2011 than in 1987.
Supporters of the effort blame the City of Los Angeles for the declines at Ontario, contending that they give preferential deals to airlines, and better marketing, to LAX. Both airports are operated by the City of L.A.’s Los Angeles World Airports, which operates Ontario under a 44-year joint-powers agreement. City of L.A. Officials in Ontario are seeking to regain control of their own destiny.
The San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership and more than 85 cities and area Chambers have already endorsed the effort, and L.A. County Supervisor and Mayor of L.A. County, Michael D. Antonovich, is also said to be supportive.
In a recent survey of San Gabriel Valley businesses, more than 40% said easy access to airports was one of the top reasons they located in this area, according to the SGVEP.
An informational meeting by a group called Set ONTario Free is set for May 31 in La Verne…
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The number of passengers using Ontario dropped to about 4.4 million in 2011 from 6.8 mil. passengers in 2007, according to federal statistics reported by The Los Angeles Times. That dip took the count lower than in 1987 when the population of San Bernardino and Riverside counties was half of what it is today. In January, passenger traffic again dropped 7.4%, compared with the same month in 2011.
As a secondary airport in a large metro area, Ontario would normally have a number of low cost carriers. Instead only Southwest Airlines now serve Ontario, and that airline has reduced its Ontario flights dramatically.
The Gold Line being built through Arcadia is intended to eventually extend to Ontario Airport, giving Valley residents their only rail connection to an airport in the L.A. area.
Landing fees and terminal-rental costs charged to airlines are far more enticing at other regional airports such as Long Beach Airport, which had the second-lowest average domestic airfare price in the nation last summer/fall at $240, allowing airlines to pass on the savings to passengers, according to The Times. The average ticket from Ontario is $97 higher.
SGVEP says the Los Angeles World Airport has made a number of decisions that dramatically increased costs, including staffing the facilities with City of Los Angeles employees, bringing in-house functions such as janitorial and grounds-keeping that are frequently contracted out, and imposing a burdensome administrative charge. These decisions quickly lead to high personnel costs and made it more expensive for airlines to serve Ontario.
SGVEP says the airport declines is hurting our economy and that local control would be the first step in reversing this detrimental trend.
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