Monday, May 24, 2010

In praise of Ontario International Airport

There are certain things that I will avoid saying if at all possible. For example, I try my hardest to refrain from using the name "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim." (That is literally the first time that I have used this phrase in years.) In fact, I went so far as to rename Arte Moreno to emphasize my dissatisfaction with the name.

Another name that I try to avoid is "LA/Ontario International Airport." However, the airport name can be justified in a way that the baseball team name cannot - the city of Los Angeles actually owns the airport in Ontario.

But if Ontario City Council member Alan Wapner has its way, that might change.

ONT lost nearly 26 percent of its air traffic volume in the past year and also had to deal with a $7 million shortfall to its 2009-10 budget.

In recent years, Wapner said he has noticed a lack of communication when it comes to ONT between LAWA and the city of Los Angeles.

Wapner has also said LAWA has not done enough to lower operating costs and drive more air traffic to ONT.

As a result, Wapner made a request of the Los Angeles City Council.

The city of Los Angeles will study what it would require and what it would stand to lose or gain to return control of Ontario International Airport to the city of Ontario, according to a motion approved 12-3 Monday by the city council.

During a three-minute discussion toward the end of an 11-hour special Los Angeles City Council meeting Monday to talk about the city’s budget crisis, councilmembers Greig Smith and Bill Rosendahl introduced the motion. It requires the city administrative officer, chief legislative analyst and Los Angeles World Airports which owns and operates LAX and Ontario Airport, to research the feasibility of transferring control of the airport to the city of Ontario and report back before Sept. 1.

But does this study truly mean anything?

Rosendahl downplayed the motion as a “courtesy” to the city of Ontario. He said he had received a call from Ontario Councilman and Vice Mayor Alan Wapner.

“They’ve called me, the vice mayor of that, the other day, and he said blah, blah, blah,” Rosendahl said during the meeting, referring to the call from Wapner.

As the city spends a hefty sum to modernize LAX, Rosendahl inferred that traffic would naturally pick up at Ontario airport and, in that case, transferring the airport to the Inland city wouldn’t be necessary.

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