By Claire Lewis
Ontario – Since 1923, when a small landing field was first built on land leased from the Union Pacific Railroad (three miles west of the current Airport), the City of Ontario has had a vested interest in the success and sustainability on the Ontario International Airport.
Wikipedia states that in 1929, the City of Ontario purchased 30 acres to create the Ontario Municipal Airport. This sustained the City until 1941, when Ontario purchased another 470 acres around that airport, adding runways and a partnership with the Army Air Corps as a training/operating base.
Due to transpacific cargo flights originating in the City, in 1946, the Airport was renamed the Ontario International Airport.
On Oct. 18, 1967, the City of Ontario requested that the City of Los Angeles enter into a Joint-Powers Agreement for the operation, management, and control of Ontario International Airport (Los Angeles World Airports – LAWA). In more recent years, that management has come into question and criticism. In 2008, 6.2 million passengers used the airport, which was 13.5 percent less than in 2007. Additionally, passenger volume decreased 4.6 percent from 2010 to 2011. In early 2011, Southwest Airlines carried 54 percent of the entire Ontario passenger load.
In 2013, LAWA offered to turn the airport back to the City of Ontario for $474 million, but the offer was rejected. And recently, once again, LAWA has agreed to turn over ownership of Ontario International Airport to the City in an agreement that includes the settling of previous lawsuits and protection of the facility’s 182 employees.
According to L.A. County Supervisor, Don Knabe, The City of Los Angeles has, in fact, agreed to transfer control of the airport back to the City of Ontario.
“For years, the idea of spreading air traffic across our region was talked about by Los Angeles World Airports. Instead, we saw significant reductions in passenger traffic to Ontario International Airport that couldn’t be explained away by the economy,” said Knabe.
Knabe states that transferring local control back to the City and allowing it to manage and grow its airport is the best path toward creating a truly regionalized vision for transportation throughout Southern California.
The complete transfer process could take over a year to complete. Once said and done, the Airport will reportedly be operated by the Ontario International Airport Authority, under a joint-powers agreement with San Bernardino County.