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New authority created for L.A./Ontario International Airport

August 28, 2012 | 12:18 pm

People walk toward escalators leading to the security check-in at the Ontario International Airport Terminal 2 in 2011. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a new government agency to oversee L.A./Ontario International Airport should the city of Los Angeles relinquish control of the declining regional aviation center.

The vote establishes the Ontario International Airport Authority, a joint-powers arrangement with the city of Ontario, which has been steadily pressuring Los Angeles World Airports to turn the airport over to local officials. Ontario City Council members approved the new agency last week.

The five-member authority will include Ontario City Council members Alan D. Wapner and Jim Bowman as well as San Bernardino County Supervisor Gary Ovitt, whose district includes the cities of Chino, Chino Hills, Montclair, Ontario and a portion of Upland.

Ovitt formerly served as the mayor of Ontario and chairman of the Board of Supervisors. He is a past president of the Southern California Assn. of Governments and a current board member of the San Bernardino Associated Governments, the transportation planning agency.

Ontario International Airport "needs to be managed by a multi-jurisdictional agency responsive and accountable to the entire region," Ovitt said. "The authority created by the joint-powers authority will help the airport rebound from the economic downturn of recent years while positioning itself for long-term growth...."

Authority officials say they hoped the city of Los Angeles would participate in the new agency given Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's longstanding support for spreading airline service to commercial airports throughout Southern California.

Once rated as one of the best regional airports in the nation, Ontario International's passenger volume has fallen by more than a third since 2007, from 7.2 million to 4.6 million last year. If trends continue, it could lose another 400,000 to 500,000 passengers this year.

Ontario officials say local control of the airport is needed because Los Angeles World Airports has not done enough to lower costs for airlines and counteract the effects of the recession. World Airports officials say the sluggish economy is the main reason for the airport’s dramatic decline.

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-- Dan Weikel

Photo: People walk toward escalators leading to the security check-in at the Ontario International Airport Terminal 2 in 2011. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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