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L.A. Council opposes bill that would take away city control of Ontario airport

June 15, 2011 |  3:04 pm

Passengers arrive at Ontario International Airport

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday decided to oppose state legislation that would shift control of LA/Ontario International Airport from the city to a new authority made up of Inland Empire officials.

The council voted 11 to 0 against a pending bill by state Sen. Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) that would transfer management responsibilities from Los Angeles World Airports to an authority comprising  four directors from Ontario and three from San Bernardino County. As the proposal is written, Los Angeles would not have a representative on the authority’s board, though the city would still own the airport.

Last month, the Senate approved Dutton’s bill, 33 to 1. It is now headed to the Assembly.

“It is unfortunate we have this [confrontation] with this senator. He is trying to get headlines, not make good policy,” said Councilman Tony Cardenas. “We have to defend what is right and continue to operate our asset, not have someone else tell us how to operate our asset.”

City officials contend the legislation is inappropriate because such a change might be illegal, key issues still need to be resolved and the city already is discussing with Ontario officials the possibility of transferring the management to them.

Concerned about a 32% decline in air travel at the airport, Ontario officials have sought to take control of the facility, saying they could do a better job keeping and attracting airlines than Los Angeles World Airports, which operates Los Angeles International as well as the general aviation airport in Van Nuys. Los Angeles officials and other analysts blame the decline in passengers on the weak economy rather than the city’s management.

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-- Dan Weikel

Photo: Passengers at LA/Ontario International Airport. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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