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Control of Ontario airport to be studied by L.A. council committee

March 20, 2012 |  9:19 pm

Ontario International Airport

After hearing about the severe decline in traffic at L.A./Ontario International Airport, a Los Angeles City Council committee on Tuesday ordered the city’s chief administrative officer to study Ontario’s proposal to take over the struggling aviation facility.

The Trade Commerce and Tourism Committee approved the analysis, which must be completed in 90 days.

Before voting on the study, Councilmen Tom LaBonge and Bill Rosendahl, who sit on the panel, heard remarks from their colleague Dennis Zine, who supports returning control of the airport to Ontario. Officials of that city have been concerned about the steep drop in passengers that has occurred under the management of Los Angeles World Airports, which also operates Los Angeles International Airport and Van Nuys Airport.

Ontario’s traffic volume has decreased from 7.2 million passengers in 2007 to 4.6 million last year, one of the worst declines in the nation.

“When you see the terminals and there is virtually no activity, it is really an underutilized facility,” said Zine, who recently toured the airport and later proposed the study along with Rosendahl.

Zine told the committee that a successful Ontario airport would relieve congestion at LAX and help Los Angeles fulfill a policy of spreading commercial air traffic to other airports around the region.

The study is part of a political strategy by proponents of the takeover to win support from Los Angeles city leaders. More than 60 local governments, elected officials, planning organizations and civic groups now support shifting control of the airport from Los Angeles to Ontario.


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Photo: A passenger walks into the nearly deserted Terminal 2 at LA/Ontario International Airport. Traffic at the airport has suffered one of the steepest declines in the country. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times