Liset Marquez, Staff Writer
Created: 07/30/2012 11:50:41 AM PDT
ONTARIO – Passenger traffic at LA/Ontario International Airport continued its downward trend in June, falling 4.3 percent compared to the same month in 2011.
Overall, numbers of passengers flying in and out of ONT have dropped 6.3 percent for the first six months of 2012 compared to the previous year, according to figures released Monday by Los Angeles World Airports which manages ONT.
A look at the schedules of flights released by airlines indicate things will not turn around anytime soon.
For the remainder of year, airlines plan to operate 9.6 percent fewer flights compared to the same months in 2011. Those figures are according to the Official Airline Guide, which publishes flight schedules for airlines.
The guide also indicates that number of airline seats available for the rest of the year will be down 8.2 percent compared to the last six months of 2011.
“It just follows our projection – the (fewer) flights, the (smaller) number of passengers you expect to see. It’s the same trend, unfortunately,” said Ontario Councilman Alan Wapner, who has been the city’s liaison on issues relating to the airport.
Adding to the drop in flights will be the apparent loss of two daily round-trip flights by Delta Airlines from ONT to Atlanta. The guide shows those flights ending early in September. A Delta spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
With the current downward trend, Ontario officials say they expect passenger traffic for the year to reach 4.2 million, a figure lower than any seen since 1983.
Decline at the airport began after 2007, when travel peaked at 7.2 million annual passenger traffic.
Addressing the continued decline in ONT passenger traffic figures, LAWA officials have said in the past that airlines are retreating from smaller hub facilities like ONT.
ONT spokeswoman Maria Tesoro-Fermin said the figures for last month were not a big surprise since they have remained at that level for several months.
“We don’t expect any sudden or huge turnaround in market conditions in the near future but we are anticipating a marketing program that may help,” she she said.
Tesoro-Fermin said LAWA officials will then be able to determine if “marketing efforts or market conditions are attributable to ONT’s passenger figures.”
The marketing program will be made public when it goes before the Board of Airport Commissioners, Tesoro-Fermin said, but she gave no date.
Ontario officials have long complained that Los Angeles World Airports has not done enough to market the airport.
Ontario city officials said they are fighting to regain control not only to stop the hemorrhaging of passenger traffic but to control their economic destiny.
“We’ve already tried working with LAWA and that never worked,” Wapner said.
The Ontario councilman said he wants to focus on future efforts, which includes negotiating with the city of Los Angeles a plan to return control of ONT to the Inland Empire.
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