ONTARIO (CBSLA.com) — Officials are warning a steady decline in passenger traffic at Ontario International Airport (ONT) could put the struggling facility beyond the point of recovery, according to a report Monday.
The report – which was scheduled to be presented to the Ontario International Airport Authority Board – predicts an 8 percent drop in traffic this year to just under 4 million passengers.
Ontario has been among the nation’s fastest-declining airports since losing nearly 40 percent of over 7 million annual passengers between the years of 2007 and 2012, according to the Los Angeles Times.
If the trend continues, total traffic at ONT could settle in at lower than 2 million passengers every year, the Times reported.
Ontario City Councilman and Airport Authority President Alan Wapner told KNX 1070′s Ron Kilgore the data was not aimed at influencing an ongoing battle over control of the airport.
“We don’t want to make anything look grim, because obviously, we want the airport to be successful for the vitality of the Inland Empire,” Wapner said.
“Once you get through the report, you find a lot of the numbers are actually being supplied by consultants for Los Angeles World Airports, so I think it’s a fairly objective report,” he added.
Ontario leaders made a $50 million bid in January 2012 to wrestle ONT away from the city-owned Los Angeles World Airports in order to provide better advertising and strategic support for the airport.
Los Angeles International Airport, LA/Ontario International Airport and Van Nuys airport all operate under LAWA.
But regardless of the agency, Wapner said officials from all sides must move quickly in order to salvage ONT’s popularity.
“We had some pretty dire projections for the airport, and this update shows things are really much worse that we thought they were gonna be, even though we thought they were going to be bad,” said Wapner.