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"Airline cites ONT's prohibitive costs for not moving flights there"
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Airline cites ONT's prohibitive costs for not moving flights there
By Liset Marquez
The Inland Valley (CA) Daily Bulletin
Allegiant Air is suspending flights between Los Angeles and three northern
cities, citing a shortage of space at Los Angeles International Airport.
Allegiant's Los Angeles flights to and from Sioux Falls, S.D.; Billings,
Mont., and Pasco, Wash., will stop at the end of the month.
The lack of counter space at LAX - while LA/Ontario International Airport is
struggling to keep the facility occupied - demonstrates the need for local
control, said Ontario Councilman Alan Wapner.
There is one reason stopping Allegiant from redirecting traffic to ONT, Los
Angeles World Airports' smaller hub facility.
"The cost is prohibitive at Ontario," said Jessica Wheeler, Allegiant
spokesperson. "If there were incentives offered by LAWA to go to Ontario we
would consider them. But up to this point they have not been offered."
That's something airlines have been not publicly acknowledged in the past,
"It validates what we've been saying. It's not the economy, it's too costly
to do business," he said.
Wapner said the city has heard from several airlines that have indicated
that it's too expensive to do business at ONT.
Traditionally, low-cost carriers such as Allegiant operate out of secondary
airports like ONT, Wapner said.
"Realistically, Allegiant should have never been at LAX, they should have
been at ONT," he said.
The solution would be to lower the costs of operations or offer incentives,
For more than two years, Ontario has been entangled in battle with LAWA,
which manages both LAX and ONT, to regain local control of the Inland Empire
Ontario officials have complained that LAWA has not done its part to attract
traffic to the airport.
But LAWA says it's a trend in the airline industry. Carriers are retreating
to major hubs in order to reduce costs.
ONT started losing flights in the summer of 2008 when Southwest Airlines
In September 2008, Express Jet Airlines pulled the plug on 22 flights and
Jet Blue Airways ended its only flight out of the airport.
Brett Snyder, author of the blog crankyflier.com and a former airline
manager, argues that airlines could be lured to ONT.
In Arizona, Allegiant is flying out of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport rather
than Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, a bigger market, because it
is more cost-efficient, he said.
"For airlines like Allegiant, that kind of costs (at ONT) is too high to
absorb," he said.
"If Ontario's rates were lower, Allegiant would already be there."
The issue with Allegiant at LAX arose when Alaska Airlines moved from
Terminal 3 to Terminal 6. The shuffle meant Allegiant Airlines was sent to
Terminal 3, the space formerly occupied by Alaska.
Allegiant spokesman Keith Hansen says the airline does not have adequate
gate and ticket counters at the Los Angeles airport. Allegiant also flies
between Sioux Falls and Las Vegas, Phoenix and Orlando.
"We offered Allegiant Airlines the opportunity to relocate to another
terminal and they declined," according to a statement released by LAWA.
Instead, with less than a month to go, Allegiant will cut service to those
"LAWA recognizes there are gate constraints at Terminal 3 due to current
construction in the terminal and on the ramp. This construction is part of
our overall program to modernize LAX and improve the levels of service and
convenience to passengers," the statement said.
LAWA officials said other airlines in Terminal 3 that were also affected
have decided to relocate their operations to another terminal or park their
aircraft at remote gates and bus passengers to and from the terminal.
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