ONT Growth Still Trails Other SoCal Airports

Monday, February 6, 2006
ONT growth still trails other SoCal airports
By Mason Stockstill
The Inland Valley (CA) Daily Bulletin

ONTARIO – Though 2005 was a record-setting year for Ontario International Airport, the air field still lags others in Southern California in its pace of growth. NT’s passenger numbers grew by nearly 300,000 to reach 7.2 million last year — the airport’s highest total ever.

Officials with Los Angeles World Airports, which owns and operates ONT, have long touted the airport as a prime location for relieving congestion at Los Angeles International Airport, which last year handled 61.5 million passengers.

But the other large airports in Southern California all had increases in the last 12 months that outstripped the gains at ONT.

At John Wayne Airport in Orange County, 9.6 million passengers traveled through in 2005.

And Bob Hope Airport in Burbank saw an increase of 600,000 travelers, based on early estimates — more than twice ONT’s growth during the same period.

That’s not surprising, since the region’s population is still concentrated most strongly in Los Angeles and Orange County, said Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.

“People do have their favorite airports, and the idea of how easy it is to get to that airport matters,” Kyser said. “They’re trying to drive more traffic to Ontario, but you have people who are midway between ONT and LAX, and I think the natural inclination would be to go to LAX.”

Planners with the Southern California Association of Governments hope ONT can expand to handle 30 million annual passengers by the year 2025.

While airports like John Wayne and Bob Hope are growing faster now, their levels of traffic will eventually face constraints in the form of geography and court-ordered passenger caps.

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