Los Angeles aviation officials today disputed claims by an Inland Empire group that flights were being dramatically slashed at LA/Ontario International Airport, insisting that flights actually increased over the past year and new service to Mexico would be added this year.
A recent study presented to the Ontario International Airport Authority - - a group of inland officials pushing for Los Angeles World Airports to relinquish control of the airfield to local leaders -- found that airlines plan to reduce flights at Ontario by 7.2 percent this month, 11.2 percent in February and 6.1 percent in March, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported over the weekend.
The newspaper additionally reported that flights were also no longer being offered from LAWA to Atlanta and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, fewer flights were being offered to hubs such as Denver, Dallas, Houston and Salt Lake City, and fares at Ontario were generally higher than at other Southern California airports.
But in a statement released today, LAWA officials stressed that no airlines were pulling out of the airport and that the first-quarter reduction in flights would be around 7 percent, representing a typical seasonal reduction by airlines.
"In fact, it is just the opposite -- flights and an airline were added in 2013," according to LAWA's statement. "... Like every year over the past several years, airlines make adjustments to their seasonal services based on seasonal travel patterns and changes in demand. Seasonal demand will increase as we head further into the calendar year and is similar to many other airports in the region."
LAWA -- a city agency that oversees Los Angeles International, Van Nuys and Ontario airports -- noted that some seasonal routes have been eliminated, and airlines are using smaller aircraft on scheduled routes, accounting for the reduction in available seats.
"When the spring schedule comes out, airlines will add seats back as demand increases," according to LAWA. "In April, Volaris Airline will begin new service to Guadalajara, Mexico."
LAWA officials also insisted that airfares from Ontario are "extremely competitive" and often beat fares available at comparable airports such as Burbank and John Wayne in Orange County.
The Ontario International Airport Authority has sued LAWA and the city in hopes of wresting control of the airport from Los Angeles, contending the city is more interested in bolstering service and amenities at LAX, to the detriment of Ontario Airport.
Los Angeles officials have repeatedly denied they were ignoring the needs of the Ontario facility.
Both sides have been negotiating a possible transfer of ownership, to no avail. --City News Service