A survey released on January 17 has found that 77% of Los Angeles voters are in favour of shifting control of LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT), USA, from Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to city officials in Ontario.
The poll, which was conducted by public opinion research firm FM3, is part of a political strategy by the City of Ontario to retrieve ownership of the airport from LAWA, which also operates Los Angeles International Airport and Van Nuys Airport. Additionally, a social media campaign called ‘SetONTarioFree’ has been launched to raise public awareness about the dispute.
LAWA began managing and developing ONT in 1967, after an agreement between the two cities which decided that the move was in the best interest of the Southern California region.
However, 45 years on, Ontario’s city officials now claim that the airport has been “mismanaged” by LAWA and wishes to regain local control in what it considers to be an attempt to rescue ONT and stem its dwindling passenger numbers. Conversely, LAWA has suggested that the airport’s worrisome performance, which has seen a one-third drop in passenger numbers since 2007, is a result of the economic recession.
In a statement also issued on January 17, LAWA’s Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey condemned the poll findings as “misleading and an attempt to deflect the truth.”
According to Ms Lindsey, the City of Ontario has offered LAWA US$50 million to buy the airport, although this has not been confirmed by officials.
She continued: “It is ridiculous for any governmental body to presume that an airport developed and modernised at the expense of another city, is entitled to a ‘transfer’ of that asset. Ontario has enjoyed decades of benefit from LAWA’s time and investment in ONT, and now with a slump in the economy, expects to wrest the asset back for a sum far below its worth.”