Monday, September 27, 2010

Ontario International Airport without the "LA"?

Readers of this blog know the story. Ontario International Airport launched a big expansion, just before 9/11 hit and rendered its terminal configuration meaningless (all of the shops and restaurants ended up behind security barriers, meaning that only passengers could get to them), decreased the number of passengers because people didn't want to fly, resulted in increased rates to the airlines who flew into the airport...thus meaning that airlines began to pull out of the airport.

I guess it helps to write a 25 page study to say that, but the study apparently also calls for an action plan.

City leaders in Los Angeles, which currently operates the facility, must act now to prevent further loss of flights at ONT, where unusually high operating costs contributed to a decision by Southwest Airlines alone to cut its daily departures by a third in the last decade, the report said.

If you've never been to the airport, Southwest pretty much IS the airport. Yes, other airlines fly here, but Southwest is clearly the dominant carrier.

There are actions that can be taken, and a suggestion of who can best perform those actions. The Press-Enterprise:

Reviving ailing Ontario International Airport will require slashing costs and increasing marketing, two things the city of Ontario thinks it can do better than the city of Los Angeles....

So how do you cut costs?

The plan focuses instead on the airport's high cost to airlines -- a result due in large part to a bloated work force of city employees and millions of dollars in administrative costs collected by Los Angeles International Airport annually, according to the report.

But the Press-Enterprise cites one economist, Alan Bender, who says that operational cost-cutting won't help much.

"You go where the business is," he said. In an area where the recession has left an even deeper wound than other regions, the business climate has waned, he said. "That's more important than lowering the costs."

But you have to admit that the costs are huge.

It costs airlines an estimated $14.50 per enplaned passenger at Ontario airport. At LAX it costs $11, at John Wayne Airport in Orange County it costs $9.93 and in Long Beach Airport it's $5.34.

Hmm...maybe Los Angeles could sell the airport to Long Beach.

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