Celebrating five years to the day since Ontario International Airport vacated Los Angeles, officials boasted on Monday, November 1 that the unhindered Inland Empire Airport has become a viable option for more travelers. and an economic engine for the region.
About 350 representatives from cities, counties, airports, airlines and states gathered at the Ontario Convention Center to mark the anniversary. lanes.
Airport officials gave a short history lesson, looking back on the past and the actions of the new administration over the past five years.
After a seven-year campaign with “Set Ontario Free” bumper stickers, the Ontario Airport severed all ties with Los Angeles Global Airports on November 1, 2016 and transferred ownership to a two-headed joint government authority made up of the city of Ontario and the county of San Bernardino.
Ontario International Airport Authority cut spending, raised funds by leasing vacant land to freight companies, added new terminal concessions that included a first-ever ramen vending machine, increased parking revenues and called on the Ontario police and fire department to manage public safety, said Alan Wapner, member of the Ontario City Council and chair of the OIAA Council of Commissioners.
“There is no one in this room who is not touched in some way by the airport,” he said from a ballroom scene. “The economic impact runs into billions of dollars, with hundreds of thousands of jobs depending on our airport.”
San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman, speaking via video, said: “There is no greater economic driver for the Inland Empire than the Ontario International Airport.”
Over the past five years, the number of airlines operating at ONT has grown by 50%, as has the number of non-stop destinations, including service to Hawaii added earlier this year. The total number of departures increased from 403 to 460 per week, while the number of passenger seats increased from 52,000 to 66,500, the airport reported.
In 2019, the airport moved 5.5 passengers – a 10-year high – and was named the fastest growing airport in the United States by Global Traveler, an industry publication.
Air passenger volume fell 90% from March 2020 and 50% at the end of the year, when the coronavirus pandemic struck. However, the ONT has grown steadily since then and is the fastest airport in the country, Wapner said.
In September 2021, passenger volume reached 97% of pre-pandemic levels, with the airport handling 453,000 air travelers, more than double the September 2020 volume of 195,000, officials reported.
As the pandemic abates and more flights are added, passengers are finding the Ontario airport more convenient than other airports, officials said.
“It’s the same reason that attracted people before the pandemic: convenience,” Wapner said in a previous interview. “It’s the closest airport for a lot of people. They can find parking easily. In addition, we now have more affordable rates.
Wapner noted the return of Jet Blue, more Southwest Airlines flights and new international flights to Mexico and El Salvador have boosted air traffic. The resumption of China Airlines flights to Taiwan, although less frequently than before the pandemic, is another nod to the slowness of international flights, Wapner said.
Air freight has also been a success. The airport will have its second best year of air cargo by Dec.31, he said, second until 2020 when online orders soared and cargo volumes increased 20% .
Freight hubs accounted for $ 1.5 billion in business over the five years between 2016-2021, doubling air freight volumes, officials said. Amazon and its freight airline, Prime Air, as well as FedEx Express and UPS have all seen growth in air freight at the airport, making ONT the first in the United States for outbound freight shipments.
Wapner said that with the blockade of ships at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, more companies are moving cargo by air and the ONT could benefit.
“When we started, there was no empire from within. Now it’s time for us to step up and really become that empire, ”Wapner said.
Claiming that the airport is behind in public transportation, he mentioned a project planned by The Boring Co. and the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority that will carry passengers in electric transports traveling at high speed through an underground tunnel between the airport and Metrolink station. at Rancho Cucamonga.
He also said the airport was considering electric aircraft prototypes to reduce their carbon footprint. The airport is working on converting gasoline and diesel ground vehicles to natural gas and electric battery, he said.
Atif Elkadi, deputy general manager of ONT, which moderated the event, said relationships with carriers, hotels, Omnitrans, SBCTA and new dealers such as Dunkin Donuts were at the center of the construction period of five years.
The only obstacle to growth is the difficulty dealers have in finding people to fill vacant positions, Wapner said. The same goes for filling positions for pilots and flight attendants, he said.
“It looks like the closing of the first chapter,” said Elkadi, “and we are about to start chapter 2.”