New governing body proposed for Ontario International Airport
The city of Ontario and San Bernardino County plan to establish a new governing body for L.A./Ontario International Airport -- another step in the effort to wrest control of the struggling aviation facility from Los Angeles.
The Ontario City Council is expected to approve formation of the Ontario International Airport Authority on Tuesday, City Manager Chris Hughes said. San Bernardino County Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux said the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to follow suit a week later.
The new five-member commission will consist of elected officials, civic leaders and business operators from the airport’s service area, which includes about 7 million residents in four counties, including Los Angeles.
Noting that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has long supported the idea of spreading airline service to commercial airports throughout the region, Ontario officials say they are open to the possibility that the city of Los Angeles would participate in the new authority.
"Ontario Airport is the most powerful economic engine in the Inland Empire," Ontario City Councilman Alan D. Wapner said. "There is regional consensus that it should be operated by an agency that is responsible and accountable to our residents for its service and performance."
Ontario officials say that local control of the airport is needed because the current operator, 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 sole reason for the airport’s dramatic decline.
-- Dan Weikel
Photo: The baggage claim area at L.A./Ontario International Airport. Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times