Liset Marquez, Staff Writer
Created: 08/22/2012 06:34:19 PM PDT

ONTARIO – A new plan to provide incentives at LA/Ontario International Airport could reduce the rental rates for airlines that increase flights there.

Jess Romo, the manager at ONT, said the new plan being proposed will probably not address the landing rates at the small-hub airport because it is already one of the lowest in the region.

But beyond that, Romo would not give specific details about the incentives being offered to airlines because they still need to be discussed with the Board of Airport Commissioners, the governing body for Los Angeles World Airports. The agency manages ONT and Los Angeles International Airport.

Just how well it will work remains to be seen.

“I think that’s going to depend on whatever our incentive program plan offers,” Romo said. “I have reasonable expectations that it will be successful.”

A letter was sent to current airlines at ONT notifying them about the program.

The FAA requires that any program not give any new carriers an unfair advantage over the existing airlines.

At the moment, Romo said he has not heard from any of the carriers. He expects to have responses from carriers by Sept. 7 and report those findings to them shortly thereafter.

In 2011, airlines at the airport paid 134.29 per square feet to rent space; in 2010 it was $154.63 per square feet and $131.61 per square feet in 2009.

The rental is based on the space airlines occupy at terminals and ticket counters.

ONT has previously offered incentives.

In 2007, a policy waived landing fees for airlines offering destinations not already served from the airport – a sizable savings for carriers at ONT.

The problem is some airlines have left or reduced their service once the period has expired.

Romo admits it’s going to take some time to roll out the process. The challenge is whether the incentives will be enough to attract travelers from the geographical region – such as Orange County and the eastern San Gabriel Valley area.

In addition, Romo said he has worked to decrease the airport operating budget by 23 percent since 2007 by aggressively managing overtime costs as well as contractual services.

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