Ontario slams plan to boost passengers at LA/Ontario airport

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Inland Empire leaders are criticizing a plan by Los Angeles airport commissioners to increase the number of passengers at the Los Angeles/Ontario Airport. 

Since 2007 passenger volume at the L.A./Ontario International Airport has plummeted from 7.2 million to slightly more than four-million - a 40 percent decline.

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) owns the medium-sized regional airport.

The agency's board approved a marketing plan this week to increase passengers at the airport.

The agency's executive director is Gina Marie Lindsey.

"We basically had a joint marketing program," said LAWA Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey. "The only difference is this segregates money for it. We do everything we can do attract an airline to Ontario." 

Attorney Roy Goldberg represents the City of Ontario.  He said the marketing effort is too little too late.

"Basically what LAWA has said is that we're going to make it even more economically painful for the those very few local airlines that have been able to stomach and stay at Ontario by making them pay even more," said Goldberg. "Because that's the source of funding basically that is being talked about here." 

Rent and fees that airlines pay at the Ontario facility will reportedly fund the promotional plan.

Airport operators say the effort will reimburse carriers for half of their advertising costs and that added measures will bring airline costs down.

The City of Ontario wants to get control of the airport and has filed a legal claim to gain local control of it.  LAWA says the recent recession forced airlines to cutback flights to the Ontario facility.

Last week the Los Angeles City Council approved a nearly $5 billion plan to improve LAX.

The City of Ontario and San Bernardino County have joined a legal effort challenging the project, saying it will further hurt efforts to increase use of the Ontario airport. 

With contributions from Ed Joyce

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