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Congresswoman Norma Torres

Representing the 35th District of California

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Politicians look for ways to fund changing of the guard at ONT

January 12, 2016
In The News

Future passengers at L.A./Ontario International Airport may help pay off the cost for the two terminals.

Los Angeles officials made reimbursement of the $120 million spent to build the terminals in the late 1990s a condition of returning the airport to local ownership. Ontario agreed to do so as part of the deal announced last July. But federal law currently prohibits the transfer of so-called passenger facility charges between airports.

On Tuesday, legislation was introduced to allow such transfers. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, whose efforts brought Ontario and Los Angeles to the negotiating table, is sponsoring the bill with fellow Californian Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Under the settlement agreement, the Ontario International Airport Authority will pay Los Angeles World Airports $50 million from passenger facility charges in the first five years; and another $70 million from passenger facility charges in the final five years.

Companion legislation was introduced Tuesday by Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Riverside in the House of Representatives. Bill 4369 received bipartisan support, cosponsored by several legislators in the Inland Empire, including Rep. Norma Torres, D-Chino, and Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-San Bernardino.

“Inland Empire residents are ready to take back local control of Ontario Airport, and I’m happy to take whatever steps are necessary to achieve that goal,” Calvert said in a statement. “This legislation has broad, bipartisan support and I’m hopeful Congress will approve it quickly. I’m looking to the day in the near future when the Inland Empire once again controls a major international airport.”

The settlement agreement was executed Dec. 22 but is retroactively effective as of July 30, 2015, according to the 44-page legal document released Monday.

Once the Federal Aviation Administration approves the transfer, the title and surrounding property of ONT will go to the OIAA.

Ontario can now begin the process of applying for a certificate of operation from the FAA. The process is expected to be completed July 1.

“Ontario International Airport is the Inland Empire’s No. 1 economic engine,” said Ontario Mayor Paul Leon, in a statement. “The legislation introduced in the House of Representatives today will help facilitate the transfer of the airport to local control. It is another example of how members of Congress from Southern California are working to promote jobs and economic growth in the region. We thank them for their tremendous support at this crucial time.”

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