Liset Marquez and Andrew Edwards, Staff Writers
Posted: 09/22/2012 11:48:56 PM PDT
Updated: 09/23/2012 12:09:54 AM PDT
L.A./Ontario International Airport could become the busiest midsized airport in its region, a top Los Angeles official wrote in a report that contemplates serious talks between his city and Ontario that could lead to the airport changing hands.
Los Angeles released the report late Friday.
Previously expected to be released in early summer, the report also outlines Los Angeles’ response to Ontario’s late 2011 offer to take back control of the airport for considerations of nearly $250million.
Miguel Santana, Los Angeles’ top administrator, says his city should say “no” to Ontario’s offer but begin negotiations with Ontario officials for the potential transfer of ONT.
“With the proper mix of innovative management and operational models and efficiencies, LA/ONT could become a strong contender for the busiest regional medium-hub airport in the Los Angeles Basin,” Santana wrote.
Ontario politicians, who have rallied support from their counterparts in other Southern California cities, have maintained that local control of ONT could reverse passenger traffic declines that have plagued the airport for the past half-decade.
From 2007 through 2011, passenger traffic at ONT fell off by 35percent, according to the consultants’ study that accompanied Santana’s report.
Neither Santana nor the consultants, led by New Jersey-based Acacia Financial Group, blame Los Angeles-based airport managers for the downturn at ONT.
“A change in ownership could potentially benefit all interested parties … (who) can potentially achieve their objectives by consummating a transaction with Ontario and its partners, and by providing resources to LAWA to enhance needed infrastructure at LAX,” Santana wrote.
That said, Santana’s report lists four options for Los Angeles and Ontario officials to consider if they meet to decide the future of ONT.
“It’s all we ever wanted, an opportunity to sit down and have these talks and come to an agreement for transfer. It’s time to sit down and fully discuss the transfer,” Ontario Councilman Alan Wapner said.
In three of those options, Los Angeles would give up control of ONT.
Los Angeles leaders may decide to retain control of ONT, however, this alternative allows for the possibility that an outside company may be brought on board to run the airport.
Transfer the airport to Ontario or a new agency the city formed in partnership with San Bernardino County government to seek control of ONT.
An outright sale of the airport to Ontario.
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