A year-long lawsuit and ongoing political battle between officials in the Inland Empire and Los Angeles over control of the “deteriorating” Ontario International Airport (ONT) has given way to a war of words between officials in both regions. A hearing has reportedly been set for October 31.
The City of Ontario filed a motion on Friday requesting a Riverside County Superior Court Judge order Los Angeles to relinquish its control of ONT to the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA), according to the Los Angeles Times.
Deposition testimonies and transcripts from meetings show that the Chief Operating Officer for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) Steve Martin had referred to the Inland Empire as the “inbred Inland Empire,” and the Executive Director Gina Maria Lindsey had stated that sharing air traffic with other airports, specifically the ONT, was “a silly waste of time” and “a politically-driven mantra to appease LAX neighbors,” notes the Times.
“[It’s] a very derogatory statement from people who believe themselves to be superior. And I am extremely offended,” said Mayor of Ontario Paul Leon in an interview with Breitbart News. “They think that we are less than them. How dare you consideryourself so great that you would degrade an entire region of the state. Howdare you.”
Complaints have been mounting, over social media as well as from Ontario officials, that the conditions at ONT have deteriorated under the control of LAWA. Ontario’s airport has lost nearly 50% of its passengers since 2007, only recently seeing a slight 1.8 % increase. On Twitter, the #SetOntarioFree hashtag has resulted in tweets like this:
— Set Ontario Free (@FreeONTario) August 4, 2014
Inland Empire officials also believe that marketing by LAWA has favored LAX over ONT.
“It’s been an effort that we’ve uncovered and I believe we’ve even been able to prove from our position that it was an effort to move business from here [Ontario] to Los Angeles for the economic benefit of their region [LA] and the economic detriment of our region [Ontario]” said Mayor Leon to Breitbart News.
On the same note, Mayor Leon also noted that he is optimistic about recent talks surrounding the potential transfer of control of ONT back to the Inland Empire.
“I’ve been energized about the recognition and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said the transference of airport operation was a mistake in history,” Mayor Leon said.
In July of this year Mayor Garcetti appeared on KPCC 89.3 and affirmed his vested interest in helping Ontario regain control of ONT. “I don’t want to make a single dollar off of Ontario… Let’s see if we can make that transfer happen.”
That same month he was quoted as saying, “It is kind of an accident of history that the city of Los Angeles owns the Ontario Airport. It’s not a disagreement about whether this can be or should be transferred but about how much.”
Photo: Ontario Airport/Twitter