Ontario calls for L.A. to stop stalling on ONT airport

March 2, 2012

ONTARIO, Calif. - March 2, 2012 -- The city of Ontario called on Los Angeles officials to stop stalling and conduct a serious review of Ontario's offer to assume control of Ontario International Airport (ONT).

 

The call for action came following a news report that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he would not approve the sale of L.A./Ontario International Airport at this time.

 

A motion introduced by LA Councilmembers Dennis Zine, Bill Rosendahl and Paul Koretz on Jan. 24, 2012, has yet to be scheduled for a hearing by the Council's Trade, Commerce and Tourism Committee chaired by Councilmember Tom Labonge. The motion called for the L.A. City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana to conduct an objective analysis of the City of Ontario's offer to return ONT to local control.

 

"It makes no sense for the City of Los Angeles to own and operate an airport located almost 60 miles from LAX," said Ontario City Councilman Alan D. Wapner. "L.A. owes it to the region to objectively analyze Ontario's offer without further delay and move ahead with a recommended transaction."

 

Wapner added that Ontario is not proposing to buy ONT. Rather, Ontario, which initially owned ONT for decades and transferred the facility to LA in 1985 for LA to manage in stewardship for the region, is now seeking return of the airport to Ontario city control. Ontario's offer also includes payment to the City of Los Angeles General Fund for the dissolution of the Joint Powers Agreement governing the future operation of the airport and signed by the two cities in 1967.

 

Wapner said Mayor Villaraigosa was previously quoted as saying he wanted a study done and is apparently yielding to pressure from his Department of Airports which has resisted even discussing a transfer of the airport. A delegation of mayors from the Inland Empire, in a meeting with Villaraigosa on Thursday, were told he was not interested in selling the airport but also said he was looking forward to the CAO review of Ontario's offer.

 

The need for action by LA has added urgency after a review of future airline schedules shows there will be a reduction in scheduled service of nearly 10 percent in April compared to the same month last year. This reduction is on top of air service declines of more than 38 percent since 2007. Today, ONT operates at approximately the same passenger activity levels it did in 1987.

 

"It has become clear that what may have made sense in 1967 is no longer in the best interest of the region and ONT passengers today, and that ONT could be more effectively managed and operated, under local control by Ontario," Wapner added.

 

Wapner reiterated that Ontario will take whatever steps are necessary to regain control of the airport located within its jurisdiction.

 

Ontario released a new white paper - Setting the Record Straight - that explains how transfers of airports between public agencies occur and answers other frequently asked questions. The information is available at the Set ONTario Free Official Site: http://SetONTarioFree.com/faq.

 

Ontario also announced that more than 50 governments, organizations and officials from four Southern California counties have endorsed local control for ONT. Their endorsements are available for viewing at the campaign website.

 

A survey of Los Angeles voters conducted last fall showed broad support for transferring ONT to local control.