Liset Marquez, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/14/2012 07:12:47 AM PDT
Updated: 10/14/2012 08:00:29 PM PDT

ONTARIO – A new regional authority formed to manage L.A./Ontario International Airport will meet today for the first time.

The Ontario International Airport Authority is expected to take a series of actions to formalize the new multijurisdictional organization, which will run the airport if Ontario succeeds in gaining control.

Commissioners will move to elect officers, determine the schedule for future meetings, and appoint Ontario City Manager Chris Hughes as its interim director.

The meeting will be at 10:30 a.m. at Ontario City Hall, 303 E. B St.

“We’re just getting started. You have to take the baby steps first to get the organizational structure set up,” said Lucy Dunn, a member of the board and also president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council.

Governed by a five-member commission, the focus of the authority will be to operate and help grow the struggling facility, which has lost about 37 percent of its passenger traffic since 2007. The inaugural meeting comes on the heels of last week’s meeting in which the Los Angeles City Council approved opening negotiations with Ontario for control of ONT.

Santana will facilitate the negotiations, which aim to determine the value of the airport.

Ontario Councilman Alan Wapner said the first plan of action, if a transfer were to occur, would be to focus on the undeveloped property around the airport.

“My goal would be, if possible, to make this an airport where airlines don’t pay any rent,” said Wapner, who is a member of the authority and has been the city’s liaison on the matter.

Wapner acknowledges that it may sound like a “crazy” notion, but said he’d like to keep the costs that airlines pay to do business at the airport as low as possible. If the authority can achieve that, the potential savings will entice airlines to Ontario.

He said he thinks it’s possible as long as the authority can improve the leasing around the site. One scenario could be to convert the surrounding property into an industrial zone.

His goal would be to increase non-airport revenues to help pay the bills and in turn lower the costs for airports.

But some things can’t be decided until the negotiations get under way, he said.

Among those is what the authority would do with people who work at the airport. The negotiations would most likely discuss moving some of those employees to Los Angeles, he said.

While the commission waits for the agreement to be made, members will consider different operating models.

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