Guests from Ontario International Airport Authority and Ontario city officials speak with one another before a conference on the future of L.A./Ontario International Airport under local control at the Drucker School of Management in Claremont on Friday. (Photo by James Carbone)
By Liset Márquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 03/04/16 – 7:19 PM PST |
CLAREMONT >> More direct flights, lower fares and a terminal solely for international service could be in store at L.A./Ontario International Airport under local control.
The airport’s future was the topic of the Friday conference “Envisioning a New Ontario Airport,” hosted by The Inland Empire Center for Economics and Public Policy, based at Claremont McKenna College.
Ontario International Airport Authority’s new CEO Kelly J. Fredericks served as the keynote speaker. Friday’s appearance was Fredericks’ second official visit to the region since being named the authority’s first CEO in January. He told attendees air service and customer engagement will be his biggest priority when officials begin with the Ontario International Airport Authority Monday.
“I have a relentless passion for taking any organization, team or company and trying to optimize its economic benefit for the entire region,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of optimism that should be here. It’s going to take time, and anyone who’s excited should be.”
Fredericks said he’ll work on developing a master plan for ONT — a blueprint for the future — as well as building an executive leadership team. The OIAA also would look into the idea of developing an airline incentive plan, he said.
Fredericks carries with him the 2013 strategic plan adopted by the OIAA to serve as a template as he moves forward, he said.
“These are the tools you need to be competitive in the market today,” he said. “We’ve got to grow our passenger numbers at Ontario. As our (numbers grow), it equates to we’re going to get more frequency, more destinations and larger aircraft.”
Getting there won’t be easy, and it will require managing everyone’s expectations, said Alan Wapner, OIAA president.
“They said it couldn’t be done,” said Wapner, referring to local control. “It was done, and it was done because of all of you. It’s going to take a lot of work, but this is where we’re going to need your help.”
Wapner was referring to the regional support the city received as it battled Los Angeles for local control of the medium-hub airport. On Friday, elected officials from throughout the Inland Empire and San Gabriel Valley were in attendance to hear Wapner reiterate OIAA’s goal for ONT: lower operating expenses and increasing non-aviation revenue.
Developing air service at ONT will be another key element to the turnaround, Fredericks said.
It comes as Southwest Airlines, the largest carrier at ONT, plans to expand into 50 new cities in the next two years, said Bruce Atlas, Ontario Airport station leader for Southwest Airlines. The carrier recently announced expanded service between Ontario and Portland, Oregon.
The low-cost carrier would bring in 200 aircraft, “which will open up a lot of opportunity for growth” at ONT, he said.
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