Liset Marquez, Staff Writer
Created: 02/08/2010 11:35:52 AM PST

ONTARIO – Ontario City Councilman Alan Wapner has expressed alarm over the possibility of a private operator running LA/Ontario International Airport.

The Los Angeles City Council recently issued a letter giving its city staff the option of bringing in a private operator to manage LA/ONT.

The letter was given to the Los Angeles city administrative officer to be used as a guide to help reduce the city’s budget deficit.

Wapner said he learned about the option only after reading about it in newspapers.

“Ontario should be a part of the discussions, we deserve that,” Wapner said.

Los Angeles city officials did not return calls for comment.

In recent years, Wapner said he has noticed a lack of communication with Los Angeles World Airports and the city of Los Angeles regarding ONT.

Ontario officials were not the only ones to learn about the letter following a Los Angeles City Council meeting in late January.

Mike Molina, senior director of external affairs for Los Angeles World Airports, said airport staff learned that Ontario and Van Nuys airports were in the letter only after the council meeting.

Molina said he is confident that once the CAO goes through the list of city assets he will realize “none of the airports are funded through (Los Angeles’) general fund and (they have) little to no impact on the general fund.”

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council are facing a budget deficit of historic proportions and memos and letters are being issued constantly, Molina said.

“It was by no means an intended omission,” he said. “If we had been given a heads-up we would have contacted Ontario.”

Depending on the proposal, privatizing ONT could be of interest or concern for cities that surround Los Angeles International Airport, said El Segundo Mayor Kelly McDowell in an e-mail.

The interest would stem from whether privatizing ONT could impact the environmental litigation between LAWA and LAX neighbors. In that settlement, LAX agreed to distribute its air traffic to regional airports.

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