Liset Marquez, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/09/2011 09:46:42 PM PST
ONTARIO – Los Angeles World Airports officials said they are not concerned about the city’s threat to sue as an option in their fight for L.A./Ontario International Airport.
That’s the message from LAWA after the Ontario City Council in December gave City Manager Chris Hughes the option to sue Los Angeles over violation of the joint-powers agreement about the airport.
The two agencies have been in negotiations for more than a year over how to operate ONT.
But despite the recent action, it does not cause a rift between the city and LAWA, said Mike Molina, the agency’s deputy executive director of external affairs.
“It does not hurt the relationship,” Molina said. “The city of Ontario is an important partner with LAWA. We will continue to develop that relationship.”
Ontario officials have been pushing for more than a year to regain control of the ailing airport that the city once owned. They contend local control of ONT would better address its litany of problems.
For the past two years, passenger traffic at ONT has fallen more than 47 percent. LAWA reported the airport served 4.88 million travelers in 2009, down from a peak of 7.2 million passengers in 2007.
LAWA officials say the downward trend in passenger traffic at ONT is a reflection of the economy and not mismanagement.
The move to include a lawsuit as a possible option comes on the heels of LAWA’s decision to solicit ideas from the private sector and other interested parties about managing ONT.
Molina, who defended LAWA’s decision, said releasing a request for “expressions of interest” is merely an option and not a violation of the joint-powers agreement.
Nothing has occurred in the solicitation process, Molina said, adding that LAWA is seeking information but will continue to talk to Ontario officials.
“We want to continue, in earnest, communicating with Ontario,” Molina said. “We want to do some of our own fact-finding so that we can be better informed as we continue our negotiations.”
The relationship between the two agencies hasn’t always been “warm and cozy,” said Brett Snyder, an airline analyst who has a blog at www.crankyflyer.com.
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