Ontario Airport numbers expected to decline for 4th year


For Inland Empire residents like Lane Carroll, Ontario Airport was really something to brag about.

"It's convenient, it's easy. For anybody in the Inland Empire, this is the spot," he said.

Perhaps not as much anymore, though. Fewer and fewer passengers are using the airport.

Back in 2007, 7.2 million passengers flew through Ontario Airport. But last year, that number was down to 4.4 million, and it's expected to drop to 4.2 million this year.

While that makes it convenient to make connections, it is bad for business.

The obvious thought is that it's all because of a bad economy. But Ontario City Councilman Alan Wapner says there's more to it than that.

"We're just not competitive when it comes to pricing. We're the most expensive airport in the country right now to fly out of," Wapner explained.

He also said Ontario Airport is controlled by Los Angeles World Airports, which is not only the same body that runs LAX, but is also the group responsible for sky-high fees at Ontario Airport.

Wapner wonders whether L.A. would even want Ontario Airport to succeed, so he wants to see the airport back under local control.

"By L.A. controlling it, basically they're controlling their own competition, and certainly there are those out there saying that's why L.A. wants to control Ontario, to artificially increase the prices, to push traffic back to L.A."

But Los Angeles World Airports says the fee structure at Ontario Airport isn't pie-in-the-sky. They point out that Ontario is still paying off its massive terminal expansion.

As for the notion that L.A. isn't concerned about Ontario's success, spokeswoman Maria Tesoro says that isn't the case.

"Los Angeles World Airports is easy to blame. But we're doing everything we can to drive traffic back up at Ontario," she said in a statement.

When asked about the future of Ontario Airport, Los Angeles World said that because of the presence of Southwest Airlines and UPS at Ontario, the airport won't be closing anytime soon.

Copyright © 2023 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.