Ontario airport, locally owned, outstrips its rivals for passenger growth

Two years after Ontario International Airport (shown in 2015) was turned over to local ownership, it has become the fastest-growing airport in the country.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Ontario International Airport is having a growth spurt.

Airports across the country have been touting record or near-record passenger numbers because of a robust economy, strong demand for air travel and relatively cheap airfares.

But Ontario International Airport is handling a passenger surge that is outpacing growth at other local airports in the last few months.

Passenger totals at Los Angeles International Airport increased almost 4% in the first 10 months of the year, compared with the same period in 2017. Hollywood Burbank Airport moved 12% more passengers in the first nine months of the year while Long Beach Airport saw an 8% increase in the same period.


At Ontario International Airport, passenger totals jumped 13% in the first 10 months of the year and rose 11% in November compared with year-earlier periods, according to the airport.

Earlier this month, Global Traveler, a publication for frequent fliers, ranked Ontario as the nation’s fastest-growing airport, ahead of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Dallas Love Field Airport.

The surge in passengers comes two years after local municipalities took control of the airport, splitting it away from the city of Los Angeles.

Ontario became more attractive for airlines since the Inland Empire governments that took control of the airport lowered landing fees by 24% and dropped other operating costs, such as the price of renting terminal space, according to Ontario International Airport officials.

“We are focusing on making us a low-cost airport for the airlines and for our customers,” said Atif Elkadi, deputy executive director of the airport.


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