San Bernardino International Airport

The Grand Jury´s extensive criticism of the San Bernardino International Airport last year has been followed by a report this year concluding airport officials have now followed all of the Grand Jury´s recommendations. Is this another sign of turn-around for the airport, now that a developer has been removed from it and is instead facing felony charges? Airport officials and Mayor Pat Morris will say yes, and good times are ahead. Other critics will say no, the airport still has insurmountable obstacles. (Sun staff/file photo.)

By Jim Steinberg, San Bernardino Sun
Posted: 03/03/14, 10:57 PM PST |

SAN BERNARDINO >> The newly completed $20.5 million international terminal at San Bernardino International Airport faces an uphill battle to lure carriers away from more established air transport centers, two airline analysts say.

“What market niche are they (SBIA) trying to fill?” said John J. Keady, president of Playa del Ray-based Keady Transportation Consulting, noting that from his perspective, there is no “unseen latent groundswell of demand” that the new terminal will serve.

This trend transcends Southern California.

“Airports in Minneapolis and Detroit are worried about losing business to Chicago,” said John D. Kasarda, director of the Kenan Institute’s Center for Air Commerce at the University of North Carolina.

Local officials acknowledge the challenges, but after years of a shattered economy in the Inland Empire, it’s time to build with a vision and hope they will come, they said.

“That is the challenge coming out of the woodwork,” said San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris. “What we have to offer is a new articulation…with a state-of -the-art, high-tech terminal. This has to be attractive to international carriers as an end destination,” he said.

And that means playing off the busy-ness of the major metropolitan hubs.

“LAX is congested to the extreme,” Morris said. “Passengers there stand in line waiting for hours to get through customs. We present the opportunity to quickly move them through the customs process.”

SBIA’s move into the international passenger flight market comes at a time when Ontario officials are trying to wrestle control of LA/Ontario International Airport from the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to the locally controlled Ontario International Airport Authority, a joint-powers agreement between Ontario and San Bernardino County.

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