In Response To Ontario’s Airport-Return Suit, L.A. Says Transfer Is Legal & Binding

(May 7) The city of Ontario bound itself contractually to transferring control and ownership of Ontario Airport to Los Angeles in 1967 based upon a set of conditions to be met regarding the development and expansion of the airport, the city of Los Angeles said in a 52-page document filed in Riverside Superior Court on Wednesday.
After those conditions were met, the Ontario City Council in 1985 complied with the terms of that contract, transferring ownership and management of the airport to the larger city, according to the court filing.
That arrangement is binding, L.A. contends in its response filed this week to a lawsuit filed by the city of Ontario in 2013 which seeks the return of the airport to the city in which it is located.
In 1967, Ontario and Los Angeles entered into a joint powers agreement that called for Los Angeles to use its leverage with airlines based upon its control of gate positions at Los Angeles International Airport to convince those airlines to fly out of and into Ontario. That strategy worked and ridership at Ontario Airport jumped from 200,000 in 1967 to 7.2 million in
2007. Since that time, however, passenger traffic in Ontario has dwindled to just over 4 million and Ontario claims that decline has come about because Los Angeles is purposefully mismanaging the airport to benefit Los Angeles International Airport.
Los Angeles disputes that, maintaining Los Angeles has lived up to its responsibility outlined in the agreement and has transformed the aerodrome, once struggling to survive, into a viable regional hub airport serving domestic and international carriers.
“Once Ontario made the discretionary decision to enter into the joint powers agreement and thereby agreed to transfer Ontario Airport when Los Angeles met certain specified conditions, there was nothing left to be done in 1985 except to administratively perform whatever was necessary to comply with the joint powers agreement,” according to Los Angeles’s legal team, consisting of Steven Rosenthal and Joshua Stambaugh.

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