Ontario International Airport

Next month would have marked a major milestone in the process of turning over control of L.A./Ontario International Airport to a local authority. (Staff file photo)

By Liset Márquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 06/11/16 – 6:12 PM PDT |

ONTARIO >> Next month would have marked a major milestone in the process of turning over control of L.A./Ontario International Airport to a local authority.

But there’s one problem: Government doesn’t always work quickly.

The issue isn’t with Ontario or Los Angeles leaders.

The Federal Aviation Administration was expected to hand the Ontario International Airport Authority its certificate of operation July 1.

But a piece of legislation — which addresses the funding mechanisms for transfer — is hung up in Washington, leaving officials in the Inland Empire with an undetermined deadline.

“We don’t have a specific revised date, but everything that is within our control has gone fantastic,” said Ontario International Airport Authority CEO Kelly J. Fredericks.

Federal law currently prohibits the transfer of so-called passenger facility charges between airports.

In January, bipartisan legislation was introduced which would allow the OIAA to use passenger facility charges at ONT to pay off part of the purchase.

“Our legislation is currently being held up as part of the much larger Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill/debate taking place,” said OIAA President Alan Wapner. “We remain hopeful that this larger issue will be resolved in some fashion on or before July 15, which is when the current FAA appropriations extension expires.”

Under the settlement agreement, Ontario International Airport Authority will pay Los Angeles World Airports $50 million from passenger facility charges in the first five years; and another $70 million from passenger facility charges in the final five years.

Wapner said the authority and its consultant team have been working closely with the FAA and LAWA over the past several months “to address the voluminous amount of items that have to be accomplished to transfer ownership.”

Once this issue is resolved, Wapner said the authority will take the agreement back to LAWA’s Board of Airport Commissioners to ratify its funding plan. It will allow OIAA to issue new bonds to complete the transfer process. The bond process is expected to take 10 weeks, he said.

Wapner said the authority has no control over Washington’s schedule.

“We remain committed to aggressively pushing for the transfer at the earliest date possible.”

Fortunately, local legislators understand the importance of the bill and are working to expedite the process, said Jim Bowman, who serves on both the Ontario City Council and the OIAA.

Bowman said the OIAA board is constantly receiving updates on the progress, sometimes several a week.

“It’s a moving target, but everyone is putting their energy in the right direction,” he said.

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