During a press conference last Thursday, officials from the cities of Los Angeles and Ontario announced that the protracted battle between the two cities over control of LA/Ontario International Airport has ended a five year struggle with a deal to return the facility back to Ontario.
The tentative agreement worth $250 million will turn over control of the airport to the Ontario International Airport Authority.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Ontario Mayor pro Tem Alan D. Wapner said the Settlement Term Sheet adheres to the premise that Los Angeles and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) will be reimbursed to the extent needed to make them whole regarding investments they have made in ONT, while providing job protection to the airport’s current employees. Along form settlement agreement consistent with the initial term sheet will be prepared within 60-days. A formal approval process is expected to begin in October 2015, with the entire process, including FAA approval, expected to be completed within one year.“Together, we’ve reached a deal that will benefit everyone: Inland Empire residents, Angelenos, LAWA, the Ontario Airport, and the dedicated employees who work at our airports,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This agreement resulted from hard work and courage on both sides of the table. I have supported the transfer of ONT to local control since my first day in office and I am thrilled that we can stop litigation and focus on a partnership that expands Southern California’s commitment to superior air travel.”
The tentative agreement precludes the need for further litigation between the cities. The cities will request that a jury trial scheduled to begin August 17 in Riverside County Superior Court be stayed.
“I have tried to help facilitate the process to reach a settlement over Ontario International Airport, and I salute the mayor and other officials for making it happen, as building additional service at the airport is in the best interests of passengers and the area,” said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
In 1967, operations of the airport were turned over to Los Angeles and eventually sold in 1985. And as the passenger count began declining, Ontario blamed the airport troubles on neglect citing specifically the Los Angeles World Airports which operates Los Angeles International Airport and Van Nuys Airport of attempting to reduce Ontario’s business in favor of LAX and two years ago began legal proceedings.
However with Ontario Airport returning back under the city’s control, the leisure, business, and hospitality sectors are gearing up to re-energize the local economy.
“The aviation sector plays a substantial and vital role in our local economy,” said Michael Krouse, President & CEO of Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The anticipated improvements to efficiently market and increase traffic to Ontario International Airport under new leadership is extremely important to our hospitality and tourism industry.” In addition Krouse stated, “This is an important part of the puzzle and as we prepare to open the California Welcome Center at Ontario Mills in the spring of 2016, we will have all the pieces to build a dynamic marketing piece to continue our efforts to bring national and international visitors to our destination.”
According to the Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau the hospitality industry is growing in leaps and bounds and with Ontario International Airport being turned back over to the city, research has begun to analyze what could be anticipated in the next few years.
According to the Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau, “At this time we feel positive that this new leadership will only add positive numbers to the statistics we already have. We are happy to report that 1 out of every 5 jobs added in 2013 was in the Leisure and Hospitality sector. In Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga there were 1,251 new jobs or 17.6% of all new jobs in the past year attributed to growth in the hotel industry. The 2014 results were greater than 2013 and we anticipate even higher percentages in 2015.”
Hotel lodging data Year over Year for Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga for the reporting month of June 2015 showed positive gains.
• Ontario occupancy is 79.40%, up 10.70% YOY with Full Services hotels leading the way, up 14.10% YOY
• Rancho Cucamonga occupancy is 86.20%, up 4.10% YOY
• Ontario ADR is $82.96 up 7.9% with full service hotels leading the way, up 8.90% YOY
• Rancho Cucamonga ADR is $115.56 up 9.70%
• Ontario RevPAR is $65.89 up 19.50% with limited service hotels leading the way, up 21.50% YOY
• Rancho Cucamonga RevPAR is $99.53 up 14.30%
In fact, there has been such rapid growth that organizations who track lodging have identified the Greater Ontario area as a sub market for reporting purposes. For the first time, “The Southern California Lodging Forecast” by PKF Consulting USA has identified the Ontario / Rancho Cucamonga area as a distinct submarket within the Inland Empire. Prior forecasts only reported on the overall Inland Empire.