Los Angeles Lowers Terminal Rental Rates At Ontario Airport

The complicated and sometimes troubled relationship between Los Angeles and Ontario over the management of Ontario International Airport intensified this week.
The Los Angeles World Airports Board of  Commissioners on Monday, June 18 took two separate actions with regard to Ontario Airport, one of which was seen as a positive step forward for the troubled facility and another that was perceived as a slight.
On the upside for Ontario, the commissioners voted to lower terminal rental rates for airlines at Ontario International Airport. Conversely, the board approved an advertising and promotional program for Ontario Airport that Ontario officials consider to be inadequate.
Ontario’s relationship with Los Angeles with regard to the airport is a complex one. On one hand, Los Angeles did much to transform the once-obscure regional airport into a successful and modern aerodrome that came to be considered a valuable asset crucial to the local economy. In recent years, however, Ontario officials have come to believe that Los Angeles has promoted the expansion of Los Angeles International Airport at the expense of Ontario Airport, greatly diminishing passenger traffic at the facility.
In 1966, passenger traffic at Ontario Airport stood at less than 200,000. At the city of Ontario’s behest, Los Angeles and its division of airports took over management of the airfield, in large measure because it was believed Los Angeles officials could use their clout and the ability to delegate gate availability at Los Angeles International Airport to induce more airlines to fly into and out of Ontario Airport. That arrangement worked and after Los Angeles assumed management of Ontario Airport in 1967, passenger traffic increased dramatically, reaching a peak of 7.2 million passengers by 2007. In 1985, the city of Ontario deeded Ontario Airport to Los Angeles for no consideration. Over the course of 44 years, Los Angeles saw to it that over $550 million in improvements were made to Ontario Airport. In the last five years, however, the number of passengers flying in and out of Ontario has dwindled considerably, with 4.2 million passengers in 2011, and further declines are expected to be registered this year.
Ontario officials in recent years and months have charged that Los Angeles World Airports, the Los Angeles municipal corporation that runs Los Angeles International Airport, Ontario Airport and Van Nuys Airport, has purposefully kept fees charged to the airlines to land in Ontario artificially high and has failed to properly and aggressively market Ontario International.
This week Los Angeles World Airport’s governing board agreed to utilize $5 million of its reserves to lower terminal rental rates for airlines at Ontario International Airport by 8 percent, from $156.38 per square foot to $144.11 per square foot. That move may allow airlines to reduce ticket prices for flights out of Ontario, thereby increasing to some degree flagging use of the airport.
In approving the 2012-13 budgets for all three of Los Angeles’s airports, the board gave little priority to marketing of Ontario Airport. The $63 million operating budget for Ontario Airport in the fiscal year running from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013 contained $142,000 for promoting Ontario Airport.By contrast, Los Angeles World Airports is putting up $4.6 million for the promotion and marketing of Los Angeles International Airport and $186,000 for the marketing and promotion of Van Nuys Airport.
Seven years ago, Los Angeles World Airports was far more energetic in seeking to gain ridership out of Ontario, having spent $2.6 million in marketing Ontario Airport in 2005.
Over the last two years, Ontario officials have made increasingly strident criticisms of Los Angeles World Airports’ management of Ontario Airport. When Ontario officials previously claimed that Los Angeles World Airports was neglecting the marketing of Ontario Airport, Los Angeles World Airports officials offered to turn the marketing assignment over to Ontario and provide some funding for that effort. Ontario officials, citing Ontario’s inability to control ticket prices at the airport, declined.

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