By Neil Nisperos, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 07/27/14, 9:28 PM PDT | Updated: 37 secs ago
Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga hotels near the L.A./Ontario International Airport are reporting occupancy growth this year, as airport officials report some growth in passenger traffic during the first half of 2014.
Still, Inland Empire critics of Los Angeles’ control of the airport say overall year-to-year declines are harming the local economy.
Looking at year-over-year data, there were 3,969,976 total passengers coming in and out of the airport in 2013 — down from 4.3 million passengers in 2012, and 4.5 million passengers in 2011. The height of activity was in 2005, when the airport saw 7.2 million passengers.
Airport officials say the declines are a result of airline restructuring and consolidation as a result of the economic downturn of the past several years.
“The airline industry made some significant and fundamental changes as a result of the Great Recession, and as a result of high fuel prices,” said Jess Romo, airport manager for Los Angeles World Airports, which oversees Los Angeles International Airport and ONT for the city of Los Angeles. “They reduced the amount of air service they were providing to the country and that was especially felt at small and medium hub airports.”
Critics calling for local control of the Ontario airport disagree.
“Our contention is what they are doing is trying to suck passenger traffic back into LAX to be able to jack up their numbers to offset the cost of repairs and expansion work at LAX,” said John Husing, chief economist for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership. “It hurts businesses here. If you’re a company located here, the two things you run into is you can’t get your people to your customers and you can’t get your customers to you. That also causes businesses to be less willing to locate here.”
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