August 7, 2008

Flight Reductions a Short-Term Loss

By Andrea Bennett

The reduction in domestic flights at L.A./Ontario International Airport will result in a short-term financial loss, but won't hurt future plans for diverting flights from Los Angeles International.

According to Mark Thorpe, director of air service marketing for Los Angeles World Airports, domestic traffic has dispersed throughout the region in the past four decades.

As the amount of Southern California air travel has gone up, the percentage dealt with at LAX has fallen.

"We're seeing a big reduction in Ontario, but it's not because they're moving to LAX. It's because they're pulling down their entire system," Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of LAWA, told an L.A. City Council committee Wednesday.

Thorpe said most cuts have come from "legacy" domestic carriers, which are airlines that existed prior to deregulation in the 1970s, such as United, American, Delta and Northwest.

Domestic U.S. carriers are especially vulnerable to high oil and jet fuel costs due to the weak dollar, while low-cost carriers, such as Southwest and Virgin American, now have the opportunity to compete and expand, he said.

"When you listen to industry analysts, most believe there'll be contracting of the industry," Thorpe said.

L.A./Ontario International Airport and LAX may have been hit with deeper cuts than other comparable airports in the nation because neither serves as a connecting hub for airlines.

As a result, the airports also do not depend on any particular airline for survival, Thorpe said.

Lindsey said LAWA was implementing four strategies to bring down operating costs and decrease the effects of the airline industry crisis on the local economy.

The department was looking to:

tap into "nonrealized, nonairline revenues,"

stop providing services that don't pay for themselves,

re-evaluate which open staff positions will be filled,

and ensure all projects do not drive up operating costs in the future.

[email protected]

(909) 483-9347

(c) 2008 Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.