By Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 10/18/14, 12:02 AM PDT |

RIVERSIDE >> Michael Huerta, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration, said he cannot intervene in the L.A./Ontario International Airport dispute, but would like to see both sides come to a quick resolution.

Speaking to members of the media late Friday afternoon before a seminar at UC Riverside, he addressed Ontario’s effort to wrest control of ONT from Los Angeles.

“For me, I am a very proud product of the Inland Empire,” said Huerta, who was raised in what is now Jurupa Valley. “I think this airport serves an extremely important purpose here in the Inland Empire. I think it’s important all the parties come together to figure out how to resolve this dispute so the airport can serve the purpose it needs to serve in Southern California.”

But Huerta commented that the FAA is a regulatory agency that looks at such things as managing airspace, providing a certificate to operate an airport, and ensuring facilities are safe. The ONT dispute needs to be handled by local entities, he said.

“In terms of how the structure is put in place and how it’s governed, that’s really a decision that is made by the local entities when they establish the airport and make a determination on how to govern it,” Huerta said.

In recent months, the ONT battle has turned to the courtroom where things have become contentious.

Court documents filed by Ontario allege that Los Angeles World Airports, the L.A. agency that manages the Ontario airport, abandoned a 2006 regionalization plan to boost passenger and cargo airline traffic at its under-utilized airports, including Ontario, and instead focused its efforts solely on Los Angeles International Airport.

LAWA Chief Operating Officer Stephen Martin referred to the Inland Empire in an email as the “inbred Inland Empire.”

Without repeating the comments, Huerta said he was well aware of the issue. In the days after the court filings, Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, sent a letter to Huerta asking that he intervene.

“Since I didn’t hear the comments being made, I will say this: If they were as Congressman Calvert relayed it to me, then its unfortunate,” he said. “I think what we really want is both parties talking together about what’s the best for the regional airport system here in Southern California.”

Huerta is slated to meet with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti this week.

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