Glendora Backs Local Control of Ontario Airport

City officials say Los Angeles is purposely diverting traffic away from ONT.

Glendora Mayor Doug Tessitor recalls a time several years ago when Ontario airport was a bustling air transportation hub for the Inland Empire and the East San Gabriel Valley.

But that scene was in stark contrast to what Tessitor said he saw as he flew in to the airport Tuesday.

“When we pulled in there today, there were two Southwest Airlines jets, one American Airlines jet and you could virtually shoot a cannon through the area and not hit anybody,” said Tessitor. “There are two major terminals, only one of which is being used now.”

Glendora became the twelfth city to throw its support behind the city of Ontario’s push to transfer the struggling airport’s ownership to local control, blaming ONT's lagging traffic on the city of Los Angeles’ efforts to diminish ONT’s revenue for LAX airport’s gain.

ONT is currently under the ownership and control of the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles World Airports. According to ONT officials, Los Angeles and the LA World Airports are making business decisions in favor of the city of LA, including driving up landing fees to entice major airlines to divert traffic and passengers to LAX instead of ONT.

Ontario officials offered Los Angeles $250 million, including an initial $50 million, to gain control of Ontario Airport.

“Under local control, ONT will simultaneously reduce its cost structure and increase its marketing, advertising and promotion spending to provide the airport capacity Southern California needs in the long term to protect its tourism economy,” officials wrote in the airport recovery plan.

“The message of local control, which this council has been a strong supporter of, is at the heart of this issue and is certainly of benefit not only to the city of Ontario, but of our residents who would choose to fly out of that than to drive to LAX,” said Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers.

Other smaller airports such as Burbank, Orange County and Long Beach are operated locally. According to Ontario officials, these airports are able to run their airports more cost effectively.

ONT officials say in the past four years, ONT has lost more than a third of its passenger traffic, costing the Inland empire $300 million annually and more than 9,000 jobs.

The number of domestic and non-stop flights at the airport has dropped almost 37 percent since 2007.

But Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the city has no plans to sell ONT and LAWA representatives say Ontario has distorted the issue.

"We're disappointed Ontario is trying to politicizing an issue and not really judge based on the merit," LAWA Board president Michael Lawson said told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “We're especially disappointed that they are making their political arguments on assumptions that were not based by the facts."

But Ontario and supporting cities believe local control is the only way to ensure business decisions best serve the region’s interests.

“Home rule is more important here than having LA city determine what takes place 60 miles from them in this area without any concern for the businesses or the people who live here,” said Glendora Councilmember Joe Santoro.

Denise B. March 14, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I have not been able to get a flight out of Ontario in the last 2 years for any of my Canada trips. At one time I was able to connect in Denver and then into any of the Canadian cities, but not anymore. The airport seems empty. It use to be a vibrant place. It is a beautiful facility, but I hear they want to push us into using LAX which worked in my case. I can get flights out of Orange County which surprised me because they are so much smaller than Ontario, but then I read that LA Dept. of Airports has boosted up the landing fees and encouraged the airlines to use the LAX airport over Ontario. We need our airport back. When flights are offered out of Ontario, they are usually 100 dollars higher now. This annoys me, but I pay it because it is worth not having the hassle of LAX. I expect to fly out of LAX when going to Europe or Asia, but for North America we should be able to use Ontario. What are the chances we can wrestle it out of the hands of the City of Los Angeles?
Steven Hanson March 14, 2012 at 07:46 PM
I LOVE Ontario airport and I really hope Ontario will be successful in regaining local control. I think the only reason the L.A. people who regulate it keep it is because every commercial I see that features a scene in an airport is filmed at Ontario, not LAX ,and I think there are people in L.A. who enjoy those profits coming in and who want to control the dominance of LAX....In effect they are squashing the competition to insure the future of LAX. I see of no other reason why they'd want to keep control of this regional facility. I rather like the fact that there are no crowds there when I fly, but it's definitely noticeable that tourist traffic is down...and that's a shame. It's a terrific airport that is convenient for the entire San Gabriel Valley as well as the Palm Springs and Victorville areas. It deserves more business and breaks. Oh...on a personal note they discontinued flights from Ontario to Hawaii so I am forced to use LAX when i go to Hawaii. Very annoying as I know they had enough people utilizing those flights to justify them.
Sparks March 14, 2012 at 09:43 PM
We agree Ontario Airport is a great airport and It is in a very good location for the eastern San Gabriel Valley, Pomona and all points east. The real advantage is not only the convenience to those of us east of Los Angeles, but the energy savings for fuel, time, and parking, not to mention trying to anticipate freeway issues due to accidents and road construction. We attempted to use public transportation utilizing the bus system, such as it is today, but attempting to allot enough time as well as carrying the bags, was not doable. (One can ask a friend to drop them off at Ontario, but it takes imposing on relatives to drive to LAX.) The last time we traveled, we returned in a severe fog issue in Los Angeles and they had to vector us to Ontario...interesting enough, the airport didn't have a tow bar operator nor enough staff to even off load the baggage, so they deplaned us on the apron and wanted to bus us back to LAX. So many of us wanted to stay in Ontario they eventually offered to send the baggage to our home using a van delivery system. What we expect is another airport in the outlaying area will eventually pick up on this issue and solicit the potential travelers leaving LAX out in the cold entirely.
Charles Stauffer March 15, 2012 at 04:59 PM
People are wondering why the traffic (air) to Ontario is less than it use to be. My family members from back East use to flock to California years ago into Ontario AP. The cost of flying from a major city cost much more than it would if they were booked into LAX. Their tickets are much less flying into LAX, but then we have to make a 100 mile round trip in our car or they get transportation at about $6 not to mention the LA rush hour traffic. It's about the same cost, period, however, if the flights into Ontario were less expensive, it would be less than a 40 mile round trip for us and we avoid rush traffic of LA. Putting Ontario AP under our control would be better off for everybody and everything....the enviroment, economy, etc..
Denise B. March 15, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Excerpts from the LA Times article: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/31/local/la-me-adv-ontario-airport-20111031 "Last year, the fees that Ontario charged air carriers per passenger averaged $14.50, about seven times those charged at Burbank, more than twice those at Long Beach, 45% more than Orange County's John Wayne Airport and 31% higher than LAX." They are not going to give it up without a big fight: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/01/ontario-fires-back-at-la-official-in-airport-control-fight-.html


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