07:24 PM PDT on Monday, July 19, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

The city of Los Angeles agency that owns and operates LAX and Ontario International Airport is reconsidering its efforts to spread air traffic throughout Southern California, considering the loss in passenger traffic at LAX.

“Here we sit on the incredible shrinking airport,” said Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports during her monthly report at a July 14 board of airport commissioner’s meeting.

For Ontario City Councilman Alan Wapner, who has begun lobbying that his city regain control of the airport, it’s a familiar refrain that he said indicates LAWA isn’t focused on increasing passenger counts at Ontario airport.

Between 2000 and 2007, LAX lost 11 million passengers while other Southern California airports grew, Lindsey said at the meeting.

“Continuing to pursue a strategy that actively pushes traffic away from the city of Los Angeles and into other jurisdictions could be viewed as a little self-destructive,” Lindsey said during the meeting before updating commissioners on regionalization efforts so far.

Looking at 2009 data for just the airports included in Southern California Association of Governments boundaries, LAX accounted for 72.8 percent of the total passengers flying into and out of it, Ontario airport, John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Bob Hope Airport in Burbank and Long Beach Airport. By including San Diego International Airport, LAX had a 59.9 percent share of the market last year.

LAX’s effort to regionalize air traffic in Southern California by spreading passengers out at other airports was born from a 2005 legal settlement made with neighborhoods around Los Angeles International Airport that opposed expansion.

LAWA’s staff and airport commissioners plan to meet with the plaintiffs of the settlement and also form a committee to redefine regionalization.

Alan Rothenberg, the chairman of LAWA’s board of airport commissioners, said during the meeting that the settlement assumed LAX traffic could reach 80 million passengers a year. The airport had 56.5 million last year.

“We’re talking about regionalization. I guess it’s heresy to say that what we should be thinking about is how to get more traffic at LAX,” Rothenberg said.

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