Liset Marquez, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/09/2012 01:49:02 PM PST

ONTARIO – Negotiations over a transfer of control of LA/Ontario International Airport may be ongoing, but one councilman already has a plan if they fail – filing an antitrust lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles.

“We are well-prepared to file litigation against them,” Ontario Councilman Alan Wapner said.

“Obviously, what we always hope for first is an amicable resolution.”

Wapner and other local officials have long expressed displeasure over the state of the Ontario airport, especially its passenger figures that have fallen from 7.2 million in 2007 to an estimated 4.2 million this year.

In recent months, an effort to have the management of the Ontario airport move from Los Angeles to local control has heated up. ONT is currently operated by Los Angeles World Airports, which is a Los Angeles department.

Wapner serves as president of the Ontario International Airport Authority, a regional alliance set up in case Los Angeles turns over control of ONT.

The case for antitrust stems from how LAWA – which also manages Los Angeles International and Van Nuys airports – have operated ONT. An antitrust case is brought against parties that limit free competition in the market place.

Just before the Los Angeles City Council agreed to begin negotiations over ownership of ONT, some council members indicated they wanted to make sure that ONT wouldn’t become a competitor to LAX and take away flights.

“To me that means they are trying to control air travel through the region – potential antitrust violation,” Wapner said.

One of the reasons LAWA has not offered incentives at the Ontario airport is that it could compete with LAX, he said.

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