Los Angeles mayor supports an independent Ontario airport

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Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti supports shifting control of Ontario International airport to local hands, calling the city’s control of the airport an “accident of history”.

“I am the first mayor to sit down with the folks in Ontario and say ‘hey, I don’t want to make a single dollar off Ontario. I can’t lose anything but if you make us whole, go for it,’” he said in an interview on the local radio programme AirTalk on 7 July.

He does not indicate how much making Los Angeles “whole” for its investment in Ontario would cost.

A report by Leigh Fisher for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) in 2012 found that the operator had invested roughly $128 million in revenue generated as Los Angeles International airport (LAX) in Ontario. It also found that the base value of a 50-year concession of Ontario would be about $404.1 million.

LAWA has controlled Ontario airport, which is about 90km east of LAX and 64km east of downtown Los Angeles, since 1967 and owned it since 1985.

The cities of Los Angeles and Ontario have engaged in discussions regarding the latter taking over control of the medium-size airport since a local judge forced the former to address the issue in 2013.

Ontario is pushing to take over the airport that bears its name after passenger traffic fell more than 40% to just under 4 million in 2013 from 2007. The city claims that neglect and high fees under LAWA’s management drove the decline.

LAWA highlights economic factors and changes in the airline industry that have shifted traffic to large hub airports for the decline in passenger numbers.

Garcetti does not provide an update on the negotiations, other to say that they are on going and that US senator Dianne Feinstein is assisting.

“I think there is a real pathway that we can make that happen,” the mayor says.