Ontario International Airport

A traveler at L.A./Ontario International Airport checks the arrival and departure monitors. The Los Angeles City Council has approved transferring airport ownership to the local Ontario International Airport Authority. The process is expected to be completed in July. (File Photo)

By Dakota Smith, Los Angeles Daily News
and Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 12/16/15 – 12:45 PM PST |

LOS ANGELES >> The Los Angeles City Council approved a landmark $250 million agreement that will lead to the transfer of ownership of LA/Ontario International Airport to a local authority, culminating a five-year battle between Los Angeles and Ontario.

In a closed-door meeting Wednesday, the L.A. City Council voted unanimously to settle the lawsuit.

“We are now one step closer to finalizing a historic settlement that will improve air travel throughout Southern California and benefit residents and airport employees in both Los Angeles and Ontario,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement.

The city filed a lawsuit in June 2013 over damages and was set to go to trial in August when the deal was announced. The lawsuit has been placed on hold while the agreement was finalized. The L.A. City Council was the last party in the negotiations to review the document.

“This is a very fair and equitable deal for both parties concerned and (for) the current LAWA employees that are working at Ontario,” said Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson.

The transfer will be finalized once Ontario has obtained a certificate of operation from the Federal Aviation Administration. That process is expected to be completed in July.

“This is an important day in Southern California aviation,” said Alan Wapner, Ontario councilman and president of the Ontario International Airport Authority.

Los Angeles World Airports has run ONT for nearly half a century but in August, both Ontario and L.A. announced an agreement to transfer control of the airport to the Ontario International Airport Authority.

Ontario will pay $30 million from its reserves, take over the airport’s $60 million debt and make payments of $50 million over five years and $70 million in the final five years, officials said.

LAWA will transfer $40 million from Ontario airport’s unrestricted cash accounts to Los Angeles International Airport.

There had been little objection to the deal since it was announced. But in October, ONT contract employees and representatives from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, raised concerns about the transfer. At an L.A. committee meeting on Tuesday, labor representatives gave their approval.

Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who chairs the city’s Trade, Commerce and Technology Committee — one of the parties that reviewed the agreement — characterized the deal as “very positive” for airport workers.

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