Ontario names new city manager

The City Council has named deputy city manager Al Boling to succeed Chris Hughes as City Manager.

The council unanimously made the decision during closed session of Tuesday’s council meeting. The appointment was announced during the meeting.

Boling has been with Ontario for 17 years, serving as the city’s first internal auditor and, for the past six years, in the role of deputy city manager .

Hughes, the city manager for the past three years, announced Thursday he will retire in December.

“I have the most utmost confidence and respect for Al Boling,” Ontario Mayor Paul Leon said “I know the city will be well taken care of.”

As deputy city manager, Boling oversees several city departments but has usually reserved a low-profile during council meetings.

“A lot of people don’t even know who Al is,” said Councilman Alan Wapner, motioning Boling to stand up to the podium at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Wapner said he has had several long conversations with Boling in the past and is confident he is suited for the position.

The outgoing city manager has been at the helm of the battle for local control of L.A./Ontario International Airport. And on Tuesday, Wapner assured the public that things will be no different with Boling, adding he has been involved in the issue with the airport from the start.

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ONT records a nearly 15 percent drop in passenger traffic

August passenger traffic at L.A./Ontario International Airport declined nearly 15 percent from the same month last year, making it the largest drop in monthly passenger traffic since May. Prior to that the largest drop in passenger traffic was last seen in October 2011.

Figures released by Los Angeles World Airports on Thursday show ONT recorded a 14.8 percent decline in passenger traffic with 338,387 travelers in August. The number was 396,632 in August 2012.

Overall, there was a 9.45 percent decline in the amount of travelers coming in and out of the medium-hub facility for the first eight months of the year compared with the same period in 2012.

In May, there was a 9.3 percent from the same month last year.

In 2011, the airport experienced a 10.2 percent decline in passenger traffic compared with the same month in 2010.

So far 2.6 million passengers have utilized the airport in 2013.

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ONT to get new service to SF

United Airlines has announced it will add a fifth flight to San Francisco out of LA/Ontario International Airport starting in December.

The announcement was made this morning. Tickets for the new flight, which begins Dec. 19, are already available on United.com. (Too bad this flight wasn’t announced yesterday when a glitch in the airline’s system allowed customers to purchase tickets as low as $0.)

Could this be the start of a turnaround at ONT?

Last week, my colleague Brian Sumers reported on Aeromexico’s decision to offer daily service to Guadalajara and low-cost carrier Volaris applying to serve ONT.

Later this month ONT, LA Tourism, and AeroMexico will co-hosting an event to promote AeroMexico’s service at the airport. The event is expected to bring together travel agents from the southern California region. AeroMexico and other Latin American carriers still use travel agents as a major source for booking flights.

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ONT GM campaigning for better air carrier presence

There is a misconception that LA/Ontario International Airport’s costs are significantly more than all other airports in the region, says the general manager of the medium-hub facility.

Jess Romo, general manager of the airport, said he also wants to make it clear that the agency that runs ONT is not manipulating costs specifically to benefit Los Angeles International Airport.

Ontario officials, which have been fighting to regain control of the airport, have claimed Los Angeles World Airports has ignored ONT at the benefit of LAX, one of the busiest airports in the nation.

Inland officials also say the airport is too expensive for airlines to do business and has not appropriately been marketed the facility in recent years.

Romo, who has been the general manager at ONT since 2006, explained how the costs and fees assessed to the airlines is based on several circumstances, and not a decision set by the agency.

“What an airport charges an airline to operate at a facility represents 5 percent or 15 percent of their total operating expenses,” Romo said. Continue reading

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Hearing on ONT lawsuit set for later this month

The first hearing in the lawsuit filed by Ontario which aims to dissolve an almost 50-year-old agreement with Los Angeles to operate L.A./Ontario International Airport is scheduled for Sept. 25 at Riverside County Superior Court.

Ontario filed the lawsuit June 4 seeking to regain control of ONT.

“The court may either take the matter under advisement or issue its decision on Los Angeles’ preliminary motions at that time,” said Roy Goldberg, the attorney representing Ontario in its lawsuit.

Los Angeles has made a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the claims are not legally relevant, he said.

Michael Lawson, former president of Los Angeles World Airports Board of Airport Commissioners, has also denied Ontario’s claim.

“There is no sound, legal or factual basis for this claim,” Lawson said at a meeting earlier this summer.

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UPDATE: Marketing campaign for ONT unveiled

After months of touting a new marketing campaign for LA/Ontario International Airport, the promotional material has finally been unveiled.

The promotional material, “The cat is out of the bag!,” features a feline popping out of a paper bag with a chart above which focuses on attracting local travelers to use ONT by promoting the 14 non-stop destinations available at the airport.

With the slogan “Fly Ontario! Your purrfect choice for nonstop flights throughout the West,” the promotional material compares the average price for those routes to other Southern California airports.

LAWA brought in aviation consulting firm LexVolo to lead the marketing campaign.

On its blog, announcing the campaign, LexVolo said research showed the public has a misunderstanding of just what ONT has to offer.

“If you ever took a marketing class, you know that if the target customers’ awareness of your product is inaccurate, it is hard to get them to try it, let alone repeat use it, prefer it, or become loyal to it,” the blog stated.

Here’s the story I wrote about the plan last week when I spoke with ONT General Manager Jess Romo.

But the campaign noticeably leaves out  one thing from its brand –Los Angeles. In several references, the ad only refers to it as Ontario International Airport, including in a logo.

However, when you visit www.flyOntario.com it is once again branded as LA/Ontario International Airport.

UPDATE: I’m told that using Ontario Airport is just the style the agency uses for the local market. LA/Ontario International Airport is for outside of the region and out-of-state purposes.

Back to the firm involved in the project. The firm may not immediately sound familiar but its principal is Edward Shelswell-White.

Does the name ring a bell?

He was the consultant brought in last year to discuss this very issue with LAWA’s Board of Airport Commissioners. At a May 2012 meeting, his proposal, which looked at rebranding ONT as a high-end facility, was met with criticism from the commission.

He presented the previous plan under LexVolo’s affiliated company, Aloft Aviation Consulting. The commission questioned the direction, citing the fact that Inland Empire had been hit hard by the recession.

Following a lengthy discussion, the commission sent the proposal back. Earlier this summer Romo announced plans for the marketing campaign.

 

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ONT to get TSA Precheck screening

Checking into LA/Ontario International Airport is about to get easier.

The Transportation Security Administration has selected ONT for an expedited screening process to be implemented by the end of the year.

While lines aren’t usually long at ONT, travelers do have to a pause a moment to go through TSA’s screening.

Worry no more. TSA Pre✓allows travelers, who are pre-approved, to leave on their shoes, belt, as well as keep their laptop in its case. They also don’t have to hassle with taking out the liquids/gels bag in a carry-on.

Travelers who are approved will get TSA Pre✓ info on their boarding pass and will be able to breeze through the lines by using a select screening lane.

To be in the program, apply here (note: it will cost you $89).

Here are the lists of airlines that participate/will participate:

Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America may receive expedited screening benefits. JetBlue and Southwest are expected to begin participating

ONT was one of 60 airports selected for the process, TSA announced on Wednesday. A total of 40 airports already use the system including Los Angeles International Airport.

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Pardon the interruption

Hello all -

A quick FYI that I will be on the cops shift for the month of September (working nights and weekends). If you have any story ideas or new releases, please also send them to:

Mike Cruz, city editor, 909-386-3880 or mike.cruz@inlandnewspapers.com

and

Kim Guimarin, senior editor, 909-386-3991 or kimberly.guimarin@inlandnewspapers.com

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Could things be turning around for airlines?

Recent stories in the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Beast indicate airlines are starting to add capacity and routes.

The Daily Beast article found that airlines:

  • will add 1.3 percent more flights between October and December.
  • 321 new airplane routes compared to 2012.
  • 121 flight routes in the U.S. more than doubled the amount of seats available for passengers according to data.

I know what you’re thinking. So what does this mean for LA/Ontario International Airport? So far it doesn’t sound like there has been an impact.

Jess Romo, general manager of ONT, last week spoke about Los Angeles World Airports’ efforts to increase marketing plans. Romo is also in the midst of setting up meeting with carriers about adding service to ONT.

(I’ll have more about that meeting on the blog later this week.)

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McLeod to hold town hall meeting on Affordable Care Act

Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) will be holding a town hall meeting on Saturday to inform residents and small businesses about the changing health care system in California and the benefits from the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Negrete McLeod represents communities of Bloomington, Chino, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona, and portions of Fontana and Rialto-California’s 35th Congressional District.
Special guest speakers include:

  • California State Senator Dr. Ed Hernandez, O.D.
  • 24th District, Chair of Senate Health Committee
  • Rachel Baranick – Deputy Director
  • Sheree Coates – Economic Development Specialist
  • U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Marcia Dávalos
  • Southern California Outreach Manager, Small Business Majority

What: Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod’s Affordable Care Act Town Hall: What You Need to Know

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to noon (Coffee served beginning at 9:30am)

Where: Montclair City Hall, 5111 Benito St., Montclair, CA 91763

Information/RSVP: (909) 626-2054, email daniel.sanchez@mail.house.gov or visit NegreteMcLeod.house.gov/Events

 

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