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Let’s Move Forward on the Sale of Ontario International Airport

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce agrees with Mayor Garcetti that the City of Los Angeles should sell Ontario International Airport (ONT). The business community believes that there is no strategic reason for the City of L.A. to continue to own and operate ONT, as long as the City of Ontario, or some other appropriate entity, continues to operate the facility as a commercial service airport for our region.

The City of L.A. took over the management, development and operation of ONT at the request of the City of Ontario in 1967. During the last 48 years, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) has increased the size of the airport from 485 acres to 1680 acres and invested more than $500 million in facility improvements. LAWA currently holds about $63 million in bond obligations on these improvements.

The major item that has not been resolved is price. ONT breaks even financially and is a valuable asset. LAWA had two unsolicited offers to purchase ONT in the last two years; both of which would have netted LAWA well over $350 million after paying off the bonded indebtedness. Because there are $7 billion worth of improvements underway at LAX and another $4 billion on the drawing board, the money from a fairly valued sale of ONT could be put to great use by LAWA and the City of L.A.

We encourage Mayor Garcetti and the City of Ontario to conclude negotiations in 2015. Likewise, we encourage Mayor Garcetti, the L.A. City Council and the Board of Airport Commissioners to continue to move forward as briskly as possible with the planned improvements at LAX. All of us look forward to celebrating LAX as one of the finest airports in the world – as it was 30 years ago for the 1984 Olympics. The sale of ONT could help accomplish that goal.

And that’s The Business Perspective.

The Business Perspective is a weekly column by Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, produced with the input of Public Policy staff.