Friday, August 7, 2015
Los Angeles Agrees to Give Up Control of Ontario Airport
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
Los Angeles has agreed to give up LA/Ontario International Airport, returning the struggling complex to local control after three decades and ending a long legal battle, it was announced yesterday.
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.
The deal still requires approval from both city councils, both airport authorities and the Federal Aviation Administration. The process is expected to start in October and take about a year.
Board of Supervisors chair Michael D. Antonovich said he will introduce a motion at Tuesday’s meeting to send a five-signature letter to all relevant federal officials supporting the transfer and urging expedient approval. He commemted:
“Coming on the heels of last year’s monumental decision to relinquish Palmdale Airport to the city of Palmdale, this action is a giant step forward in our effort to develop a regional multi-model transportation system – and underscores the importance of extending the Gold Line to the Ontario Airport.”
“I have supported the transfer of ONT to local control since my first day in office and I am thrilled that we can stop litigation and focus on a partnership that expands Southern California’s commitment to superior air travel,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
The deal will “restore the region’s most important economic and jobs engine,” Ontario Mayor pro tem Alan D. Wapner said.
Ontario turned over airport operations to Los Angeles in 1967 and sold it outright in 1985.
In recent years the facility has seen passenger totals decline and lost airlines. The passenger count fell from 7.2 million in 2007 to 3.9 million in 2013, although it rebounded slightly last year.
The facility now has around 60 daily departures by eight carriers.
Ontario sued two years ago for breach of contract. It blamed airport woes on neglect and deliberate actions by Los Angeles World Airports, which also operates Los Angeles International Airport and Van Nuys Airport.
The airport operator denied it was trying to reduce Ontario’s business in favor of LAX. The lawsuit was scheduled to have gone to trial on Aug. 17.
The City of Ontario is represented by Andre Cronthall, a partner at Sheppard Mullin. LAX is represented by the law firms of Kaye Scholler (with offices in Century City and the District of Columbia) and Anderson & Kreiger LLP of Cambridge Massachusetts, in addition to the Office of Los Angeles City Attorney.
Copyright 2015, Metropolitan News Company