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Ontario Airport Concessions Pact Extended by Panel

Times Staff Writer

At a time when minority participation in city contracts is undergoing intense scrutiny, the Los Angeles Airport Commission unanimously approved a one-year extension of a controversial concession contract with Host International, the major concessionaire at Ontario International Airport.

The commission on Wednesday agreed to the extension only after Clarence Daniels, Host’s vice president for corporate development, promised that his company will reevaluate minority participation in its business and file a report with the commission within 90 days.

But Daniels said after the meeting that he is not sure that any revisions in Host’s minority program will be necessary.

‘No Guarantee’

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“There is no guarantee that in 90 days we are going to propose something different,” Daniels said. “But the idea is to be totally open to change.”

Concessions contracts at city-owned Ontario and Los Angeles International airports are under investigation by airport officials and City Council members because they appear to lack the level of participation by minority partners that federal programs require. A goal of the program is to have women and minority partners gain enough experience and expertise working with a prime contractor to eventually be able to compete for the business themselves.

Wilfred L. Marshall, who oversees the city’s minority business program, said he had not expected the commission to renew Host’s contract until the company completed its evaluation.

“I’m surprised, but there is nothing illegal about it--it’s a judgment call,” Marshall said.

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The Department of Airports has set a goal of giving minority-owned businesses 20% participation in its contracts and women-owned businesses 12%, said Donald Miller, deputy executive director of the department.

Learn the Business

Daniels said Host gives its six minority partners a good chance to learn the business by attending monthly meetings at which operating decisions and annual budgets, among other things, are discussed.

Host, which runs all of the food and beverage concessions, gift stores and newsstands at the Ontario airport, has had the contract since 1982, Miller said.

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Host pays the city at least $1 million annually for the Ontario space, depending on sales, said Department of Airports spokesman Lee Nichols. Host also has a cafeteria contract at LAX.


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