Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Why Ontario airport budget is delayed
By Liset Márquez
The Inland Valley (CA) Daily Bulletin
Passengers wait at Baggage Claim after arriving at the Ontario International Airport in Ontario, CA.,Thursday, May 4, 2017.
ONTARIO - Approval of Ontario International Airport’s operating budget could be delayed for as many as three months to give officials more time to continue discussions with airlines regarding fees, costs and expenses.
Ontario International Airport Authority CEO Kelly Fredericks said the draft budget reflects a significant decrease in terminal rents and landing fees, which are the two big rates and charges to airlines often passed on to their customers.
As it stands now, Fredericks said the draft budget indicates an almost 9 percent decrease in terminal rents and almost 10 percent in landing fees. Details of the draft were not released.
The airport’s governing body voted 4-0 in a special meeting Monday to extend the budget process for up to three months. Commissioner Lucy Dunn was absent.
“We’re looking to see if we can tweak it some more and squeeze a little more out of it,” Fredericks said following the meeting.
In the meantime, officials will be using the $85 million budget created by Los Angeles World Airports before the transfer took place Nov. 1, 2016. The Ontario airport authority adopted LAWA’s 2016-17 budget as its own in October.
“While we don’t need the airlines to approve it, I think we should start a relationship with them on the right foot,” said authority President Alan Wapner. “It’s not unusual. We are a brand-new corporation and this is our very first budget. There’s always going to be some kinks that need to be worked out. I don’t think staff did anything wrong.”
Fredericks said staff will manage the airport under the existing budget. Once the commission approves the budget, it will be made retroactive to July 1, 2017.
Monday’s motion also included an amendment, requested by Wapner, that the authority institute a hiring freeze until the budget is approved.
Wapner said there were about 30 positions on the organizational chart that he didn’t feel comfortable filling until he had an opportunity to review the budget and make sure “we have the money to pay those folks.” Fredericks said the authority is working through a transition plan and those positions are across the board, some mid- to upper-level management and some operations.
“That’s incumbent on us to move forward,” he said about the hold.
Fredericks said he hopes to wrap up the budget process in the next month. A special meeting could be held in July to approve the budget, he said.