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"Marketing Plan to Boost Passenger, Cargo Traffic at Ontario, Calif., Airport"
July 17, 2000
Marketing Plan to Boost Passenger, Cargo Traffic at Ontario, Calif., Airport
Business Press, Ontario, CA
Jul. 17--Los Angeles World Airports has unveiled its long-awaited marketing
plan to bolster passenger and cargo traffic at Ontario International
The five-year plan calls for the city of Los Angeles, which has owned ONT
since the 1960s, to beef up passenger counts and cargo tonnage by increasing
awareness of the airport within Southern California, across the nation and
It calls for airport officials to market the airport to foreign and domestic
airlines, cargo carriers and the travel industry through advertising, trade
shows and familiarization tours for travel professionals.
Ontario city officials -- who have been at odds with Los Angeles ownership
of ONT in the past -- lauded the marketing study, conducted by
Connecticut-based Cannondale & Associates, as a major step toward bolstering
traffic and increasing the airport's role as an economic engine for the
"They've covered all the elements," said Ontario City Manager Greg
Devereaux. "They've geared the study toward local advertising. - I've always
believed that advertising in our primary market is the key to getting the
(passenger and cargo) numbers up."
But some critics said the marketing study doesn't go far enough.
Debbie Acker, former director of tourism for the Ontario Visitors and
Convention Bureau and now an aviation industry consultant, believes the
study will do little to turn around what she believes is Los Angeles' long
history of neglect at Ontario in favor of much-larger Los Angeles
"It's vague," Acker said. "As a multipronged effort, the plan has a lot of
spokes. But we need all four wheels. Any effort is good, but we need a much
more thorough effort."
According to Cannondale officials, the 2.9 million people who live within a
45-minute drive of the airport are the most important target audience for
the marketing effort. Increasing "local market" awareness is the primary
strategy in the plan.
Passenger traffic grew rapidly in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But it
flattened out in the latter part of the decade -- just as the airport opened
a new terminal facility designed to accommodate growth that a decade ago was
projected to be 12 million annual passengers by 2010.
Over the past eight years, however, traffic has grown only from 6.1 million
to 6.58 million -- less than it grew during a one-year period between 1992
Part of the solution will be increasing the number of nonstop cross-country
flights. The study identifies five major cities as targets for new nonstop
service: New York, Honolulu, Washington, D.C., Boston and Albuquerque. The
airport should expand service to San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, Dallas and
Concomitantly, start-up JetBlue Airways is beginning one daily nonstop
flight between Ontario and Kennedy International Airport this month.
Another key strategy will be strengthening knowledge about the airport
within the travel industry, according to the study. That will include trade
shows, travel agent familiarization tours and increasing the airport's
profile on the Internet.
Other elements in the six-pronged strategy include increasing awareness of
the airport in Canada and Mexico, inducing foreign carriers to start or
increase service to ONT, shoring up awareness of ONT's cargo capabilities,
and increasing the airport's "branding" power by positioning the region as
"the Gateway to Southern California" in marketing materials.
The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau will assist in co-marketing
But Acker believes the plan should focus more on increasing national and
international, rather than regional, awareness of the airport. At least one
major domestic carrier representative didn't even know Ontario had built new
terminal facilities, she said.
Acker also remains skeptical that Los Angeles is truly committed to
increasing passenger traffic at Ontario International when many Los Angeles
interests want to expand passenger and cargo service at LAX.
LAWA Deputy Executive Director Phil Depoian said no funding program is yet
in place to pay for the marketing. "We're still working out who will pay for
what and when," he said.