Ontario International Airport

By Neil Nisperos, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 11/06/16 – 4:30 PM PST |

ONTARIO >> A high-ranking executive for Korean Air was present at the airport on Wednesday for the ceremony to hand off ownership from the city of Los Angeles to the Ontario International Airport Authority, and OIAA hopes the visit could translate into potential business.

The executive, John Jackson, vice president of marketing for Korean Air in North and South America, when asked via email whether the company was interested in opening service at ONT, responded, “we were there at the invitation of Ontario Airport and have no plans to begin service.”

Currently, only two airlines, Volaris and Aeromexico, offer international passenger flights at the airport to Mexico. Airport officials have been active in engaging with foreign and domestic airline companies to expand international flights at ONT.

Commissioner Curt Hagman said the visit by Korean Air was “introductory” and that the airline had expressed to him some interest in ONT. He said he remains hopeful.

“They were interested in our airport, but there were no details and no talk about fleet service at this point,” Hagman said. “Obviously there are no plans at this point, but that doesn’t mean they’re not interested. Let’s take it step-by-step.”

Earlier this year, Hagman said he was in talks with unnamed airline companies from China that had expressed interest in opening up international flights at the airport. Hagman confirmed Friday the airport was in initial talks with Hainan Airlines, the fourth-largest airline based in China, and the largest privately-owned airline from the Asian nation.

“They have come out several times to discuss both routes as well as potential investment in the airport, but nothing’s been signed,” Hagman said.

Ontario International Airport Authority officials say full control will allow them to finally move forward on plans to redevelop land at the airport to generate money toward expanding and improving the regional airport with new money offsetting landing fee costs to entice airlines to return and expand flights.

OIAA’s vision for the next few years, according to Hagman, includes a new international terminal, an upgrade of terminals 2 and 4, a parking structure, hotels, restaurants and shops.

“There are things we need to do in this airport first to gear up for them,” Hagman said. “We’re hoping by the first of the year, we’ll have (temporary) infrastructure at least set up. … To start taking more flights. We want to make things better for the passenger experience.”

Hagman said OIAA is also in talks with Chinese companies and airlines to set up shop at Ontario International, with firms to help with development and carriers potentially expanding international flights to and from China.

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