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Los Angeles to give up control of Ontario International Airport

Los Angeles to give up control of Ontario International Airport

Old Aug 5, 15, 9:59 pm
  #1  
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Los Angeles to give up control of Ontario International Airport

I try to use ONT as much as possible for my work travel and when the difference in fare between LAX is 20% or less, but it is often difficult given the limited schedule and destinations. Hopefully this will allow ONT to negotiate for more flights. The Southern California Association of Government's projections have ONT at 7.2 to 19 million passengers in 2040, more akin to a Hobby or Love Field than the podunk, deserted airport it is today. The Inland Empire has almost 4 million people and deserves a quality airport.

http://www.dailybulletin.com/busines...ntario-airport

Under the terms of the agreement between Los Angles and Ontario, L.A. and Los Angeles World Airports would be reimbursed for the investments that have been made at ONT, as well as retaining employees. Details were scarce but sources announced a 1 p.m. Thursday news conference at ONT, where Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Ontario Councilman Alan Wapner would disclose the terms of the agreement.

LAWA is the Los Angeles agency that operates ONT, Los Angeles International Airport and Van Nuys Airport.

The agreement will need to go through a series of approvals including by both city councils, airport governing bodies for Los Angeles and Ontario as well as at the federal level. Documents laying out the terms will be drawn up within the next two months and the yearlong process is expected to begin in October.
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Old Aug 6, 15, 8:16 pm
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I was certain this was going to end up in a lengthy court battle. Hopefully the new airport authority will be able to quickly fix the problems created by LAWA's lack of attention to ONT.

The airport has so much potential. A strong well-run ONT benefits people in Los Angeles who might never set foot in the place. My usual destination when travelling to Southern California is roughly 15 minutes from ONT. But, as calwatch notes, the limited schedule and high prices (sometimes $150+ more) mean I usually end up having a relative drive 50 miles each way to pick me up at LAX.
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Old Aug 6, 15, 8:29 pm
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ABC News:
Los Angeles Agrees to Give up Control of Ontario Airport

<snip>

The tentative deal disclosed by the mayors of the two cities calls for Ontario to pay Los Angeles World Airports $190 million over 10 years to reimburse it for the cost of running and improving the airport located 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

The Ontario International Airport Authority also will assume airport debts, bringing the cost of the deal to about $250 million.

The agreement also requires Ontario to take steps to protect jobs of airport employees.

<snip>
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Old Aug 8, 15, 3:53 am
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I don't see how transferring ownership is going to help anything. Many people who live closer to SNA or BUR use LAX most of the time because it's cheaper. That's where the flights are, and airlines find it more efficient to have a hub in one place rather than spreading flights around.

My guess is that the new Ontario airport authority will be able to attract a few LCCs like Allegiant or Spirit, but I don't think they are going to increase passenger counts substantially.
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Old Aug 8, 15, 8:23 am
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Local ownership probably won't help-but I hope it does

<redacted by moderator>
However I don't know how they are going to attract flyers from outside the IE (and they will have to in order to survive) to use ONT on a regular basis.

LGB (Long Beach) spent a lot of money fixing up their airport. It is the same drive time for me to LAX/LGB. I really hate LAX and yet I refuse to use LGB (unless it is a killer fare) because of the extortionate parking rates. If the fare is cheap enough I can justify it-but only for a short hop.

So Best of luck to Ontario. It is going to need it

Last edited by TWA884; Aug 8, 15 at 10:18 am Reason: Comment more suitable for OMNI/PR
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Old Aug 8, 15, 9:10 pm
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There are many things that can be done to reverse the damage LAWA has done at ONT. Not all of those things involve passenger flights.

The Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) created a strategic business plan as part of the campaign to take control of the airport. The executive summary is still available on their website:

http://setontariofree.com/

One of their key goals is to Develop Airport-Related Businesses. The area around ONT is already home to large warehouses, logistics centers, and freight transportation companies. (That's one reason why ONT doesn't have curfews like other So Cal airports.) Improving cargo facilities and streamlining processes could result in significant revenue. Additionally, OIAA also wants to "Re-initiate negotiations abandoned by LAWA with potential cargo and other developers".
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Old Aug 10, 15, 6:01 pm
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Other than UPS, there are no scheduled cargo operators at ONT. And the reason is the same as why people prefer LAX... there are more flights and it is generally cheaper. I wish ONT the best of luck but the local boosters are living in a cargo cult... (both literally and figuratively!) They think a big airline is going to come save them and deliver the goods. The economy reality says otherwise.
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Old Aug 10, 15, 7:25 pm
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Originally Posted by bzcat View Post
Other than UPS, there are no scheduled cargo operators at ONT. And the reason is the same as why people prefer LAX... there are more flights and it is generally cheaper. I wish ONT the best of luck but the local boosters are living in a cargo cult... (both literally and figuratively!) They think a big airline is going to come save them and deliver the goods. The economy reality says otherwise.
Two things. First companies like UPS have their own fleets and for the most part don't heavily rely on cargo space with commercial airlines. And if it makes sense, companies like FedEx could send some cargo planes to ONT.

Second point, with LAWA out of the way ONT now has a chance. Where as before they had NO chance. It's no secret that ONT was undermined in favor of LAX by LAWA. I'm not saying it will be easy by a long shot. But at least operators will have a choice in the matter to where they fly their metal.
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Old Aug 11, 15, 12:19 pm
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Originally Posted by SimonB77 View Post
Two things. First companies like UPS have their own fleets and for the most part don't heavily rely on cargo space with commercial airlines. And if it makes sense, companies like FedEx could send some cargo planes to ONT.

Second point, with LAWA out of the way ONT now has a chance. Where as before they had NO chance. It's no secret that ONT was undermined in favor of LAX by LAWA. I'm not saying it will be easy by a long shot. But at least operators will have a choice in the matter to where they fly their metal.
You are engaging in some sort of conspiracy theory. LAWA did not favor LAX. Airlines and passengers favored LAX.

LAWA undermined ONT by adding the 2nd wide body capable runway, new parking lots, 2 new terminals, a cargo facility, 24 hours operation, lowest airline facility fees in SoCal, and was on board for a Metrolink station (County of San Bernandino refused to pay for it). It was terrible what they did to the airport...
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Old Aug 12, 15, 5:49 am
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Originally Posted by bzcat View Post
You are engaging in some sort of conspiracy theory. LAWA did not favor LAX. Airlines and passengers favored LAX.
Yeah, it was a conspiracy to oust the innocent, hard-working saints at LAWA. And a fairly massive conspiracy, too. After all, they managed to coerce endorsements out of:

  • Twelve Chambers of Commerce
  • Seventy City/Town Governments
  • Twelve Newspapers
  • Nine State Assemblymen/women (both Republican and Democrat)
  • Three State Senators (both Republican and Democrat)
  • Roughly Twenty Governmental Agencies and Business Organizations
  • Four US Congressmen/women (both Republican and Democrat)
  • One US Senator
  • Tommy Lasorda

That's a pretty impressive feat. Or, perhaps the truth is that LAWA did a horrible job of running ONT.
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Old Aug 12, 15, 2:59 pm
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Originally Posted by writerguyfl View Post
Yeah, it was a conspiracy to oust the innocent, hard-working saints at LAWA. And a fairly massive conspiracy, too. After all, they managed to coerce endorsements out of:

  • Twelve Chambers of Commerce
  • Seventy City/Town Governments
  • Twelve Newspapers
  • Nine State Assemblymen/women (both Republican and Democrat)
  • Three State Senators (both Republican and Democrat)
  • Roughly Twenty Governmental Agencies and Business Organizations
  • Four US Congressmen/women (both Republican and Democrat)
  • One US Senator
  • Tommy Lasorda

That's a pretty impressive feat. Or, perhaps the truth is that LAWA did a horrible job of running ONT.
A plan for local control going forward does not prove that LAWA previously undermined ONT. That's the conspiracy theory I was referring to.

The fact is ONT traffic declined at similar rate to most of the regional airports around the country during the recession and the subsequent consolidation and change in airline business models that favored larger airports didn't help it recover. BUR emplacement is also suffering, and LGB is off its peak too.

Please cite actual example of how LAWA undermined ONT. Did it close a runway? Impose unreasonable operational limits like a curfew? Did it actively block construction of a train station that would serve the airport? Did it let terminal go beyond useful life without rebuilding it? Did it ask the Fed Govt to close custom facilities? Did it charge $30 for parking like at LAX?
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Old Aug 12, 15, 9:29 pm
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ONT was burdened by high operating costs, including paying a 15% administration fee to LAX. ONT is also overstaffed. This 2010 report compared the staffing levels with nearby, similar-sized airports:

"The true total ONT employee count of 387 is more than double John Wayne's staff of 175, more than three times Long Beach's staff of 124, and more than San Diego's staff of 355 (SAN has three and a half times as many passengers as ONT)." (Source A, page 17)


(Source A, page 11)

When compared with other similar-sized airport nationwide, the employee count per million enplaned passengers shows the problem:


(Source A, page 18)

The first thing most failing businesses do is to look at labor costs. Clearly, LAWA leadership never did that elementary task.

Another example that LAWA undermined ONT was the management structure. The airport manager was in charge of both ONT and Van Nuys Airport. Those two sites are 60 miles apart. That structure is "an unusual arrangement for a medium hub airport" (Source A, page 18)

I readily admit that there is no "smoking gun" data that proves LAWA was negligent. But, the data shows that ONT fell far more than further than comparable airports during the recession. Locally:


(Source B, page 5)

Comparing ONT to Los Angeles area, US average, and Medium Hub average:


(Source B, page 1)

Sources:
A: Ontario International Airport - A Recovery Plan (Author: City of Ontario): http://web.archive.org/web/201502221...rt%2BFINAL.pdf

B: Ontario International Airport - Accelerating Passenger Declines Imperil Future Recovery (Author: Oliver Wyman Consulting): http://web.archive.org/web/201502221...nce%202010.pdf
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Old Aug 13, 15, 2:49 pm
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ONT has higher operating cost and more employees than some regional airports around the country because it has two runways, a 24/7 cargo operation, and two brand new passenger terminals.

Comparing the number of employees is truly meaningless without taking into account the size of the facility. SAN may have 355 employees but it also has only 1 runway and tiny cargo operation. ONT has 2 runways and 24/7 cargo operation. When you put it in relevant context, ONT's 387 employee actually seems under-staffed given the huge disparity in the size of the property compare to SAN.

Most of the airports cited in the report do not have 24/7 operation, only a few has two active runways, and majority has not had significant terminal facility capital project in the same scale as ONT in a while. Some of the airports cited in the report are also joint civilian-military facilities which means the civilian airport authority/operator is not responsible for the entire cost and staffing of maintenance of the entire airport property.

Of course if LAWA didn't permit 24/7 operation, or build the 2nd runway, or the new terminals, that would be used by conspiracy theorists to show LAWA let the place fall apart without capital improvements.

You can't complaint about high costs per passenger enplanement and ignore all the investments LAWA made to ONT. LAWA invested in the airport to support 2008-level passenger activity. To even suggest that LAWA somehow undermined the airport is pretty ridiculous - they did the opposite... Over invested in ONT by a long shot. The total operating cost of ONT is not high compare to other similar airfields... it's only when you divide it by the declining number of passengers, the numbers stick out. How about if we divide the operating cost by number of tons of cargo? I'd imagine SNA will look very unfavorably in that metric. I guess those guys are doing a horrible job?

Or operating cost divided by number of parking lot spaces? ONT is going to beat every airport in SoCal using that metric.

Or operating costs divided by number of Taco Bell within 20 miles radius? I don't know which airport will be the cheapest but ONT probably has a good shot.
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Old Aug 13, 15, 8:04 pm
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I suggest you read the full Recovery Plan (Source A). Several of the things you mention are discussed.

I presented my argument with sources. You are welcome to disagree or to interpret the data differently. Ultimately, it doesn't matter because it appears that the deal is done.
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Old Aug 13, 15, 8:42 pm
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Please try not to get personal.

Thank you,

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