EDITORIAL: ONT moves ahead on several fronts
The move toward local control of L.A./Ontario International Airport is gaining altitude.
In recent days, President Obama signed a bill that was necessary for the airport’s transfer from Los Angeles to a local authority; marketing plans for the airport began taking shape, and local officials began discussing a shuttle service that would move passengers from Metrolink to the airport and vice versa.
All those developments are important, but the absolutely critical one was Obama’s signature on a Federal Aviation Authority reauthorization bill.
Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, and co-sponsor Rep. Norma Torres, D-Ontario, introduced a bipartisan bill in January to allow passenger facility fees collected at ONT to be transferred to Los Angeles World Airports. The bill allows Ontario to pay $120 million in fees to Los Angeles over 10 years – part of the deal reached for L.A.’s handing over control of the airport. LAWA has already collected $50 million of those passenger fees at ONT.
The representatives folded their standalone bill into the much larger FAA reauthorization legislation, which had to become law to keep the nation’s air traffic control system operating. The Senate OK’d the bill last week and the president signed it on Friday, moving ONT a big step closer to local control.
Meanwhile, the Ontario International Airport Authority, which will assume control of the airport when it is transferred, is working on marketing plans for the facility. At a meeting with an advertising agency last week, OIAA commissioners Alan Wapner, Ron Loveridge and Lucy Dunn wisely preferred “ONT: Your gateway to Southern California” as the primary theme for the campaign to the generic “ONT: Find your adventure.”
The airport has to deal with a nationwide identity problem – fliers from elsewhere in the country don’t necessarily know the location of ONT or the city of Ontario – so getting “Southern California” into the theme is a good idea. So is Dunn’s suggested tag line: “ONT: the LAX alternative.”
Yet another good idea is the possible public-private partnership being discussed by Omnitrans and the Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau to create a shuttle service that could connect ONT with Metrolink. Such a service might also serve area hotels, entertainment venues and shopping destinations.
Connecting ONT to the Rancho Cucamonga and Ontario Metrolink stations via scheduled shuttles is an idea we’ve long favored.