Ontario International Airport

Documents cited by attorneys representing Ontario detail several instances in which Los Angeles World Airports appeared to direct key personnel to focus efforts on Los Angeles International Airport rather than ONT. With luggage in tow, a traveler checks in at the ticket counter LA/Ontario International Airport in Ontario. (Staff file photo/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

By Steve Scauzillo, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Posted: 06/13/16 – 7:03 PM PDT |

POMONA >> At a conference Monday aimed at boosting regional connectivity between the Inland Empire and the San Gabriel Valley, territorial and financial issues created a lack of agreement on the best way to move people and solve cross-county gridlock.

At the heart of transportation and economic improvements are two projects that remain in stalemate — a thriving, independent Ontario International Airport and a set of rail lines to serve airport passengers and give cross-county commuters an alternative to driving the 10, 60 or 210 freeways.

While Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) had agreed in principal to sell the airport to the Ontario International Airport Authority, the transfer set for July 1 has been delayed by red-tape in Washington, D.C., specifically consisting of a Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill stalled in Congress.

Michael Huerta, administrator of the FAA, was Monday’s keynote speaker at the “Greener Valleys 2016” conference sponsored in part by MoveLA, Move Inland Empire, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and Cal Poly Pomona, where the day-long gathering was held.

To the surprise of about 200 in the audience, Huerta addressed the eventual transfer of ownership. While refraining from the specifics, Huerta spoke about future challenges facing OIAA after it receives the keys to the underused airport.

“Your journey has been and will continue to be challenging, enlightening, invigorating and frustrating and all of those things at once,” Huerta said, ominously. Earlier, he spoke about how regional airports can invigorate the local economy if they find enough air carriers willing to fly there and if operators, cities and regional governments develop a passenger niche.

“As you look to the future, it is how do you market the benefits of this region to the air carriers?” he said, reminding the audience of the airlines eliminating unprofitable routes, streamlining costs and of four recent air carrier mergers that have reduced choices for consumers. “Marketing is never an easy task.”

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