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Congressmen want review of Ontario International's sharp decline

November 21, 2011 |  4:41 pm

Two California congressmen Monday urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to have the Federal Aviation Administration take action to reverse the severe decline at L.A.-Ontario International Airport.

Reps. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) and Ken Calvert (R-RiversidE) also wrote to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, demanding that Los Angeles World Airports, which operates Ontario, take immediate steps to either improve business at the airport or turn over control to Inland Empire officials.

“We strongly urge the Department of Transportation to closely examine Los Angeles World Airport’s governance of Ontario International Airport,” the congressmen wrote to LaHood. “Without action, we are precariously close to losing the airport, a vital component to the economic health of San Bernardino and Riverside counties.”

Ontario had been one of the fastest-growing regional airports in the nation. Now, it is one of the fastest declining, having lost a third of its passengers since 2007. Flights have been reduced by 47% and  destinations by 60%.

Lewis and Calvert said that by turning its focus almost entirely on LAX at the expense of Ontario operations, Los Angeles World Airports is seriously undermining a plan to spread air traffic throughout the region.

They added that Ontario needs to be under local control - -either the city of Ontario or an Inland Empire airport authority -- to ensure that the operator is focused soley on the success of the airport.


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PHOTO: A near-empty passenger terminal at LA/Ontario International Airport. CREDIT: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times