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"Ontario, Calif., Airport Marketing Needs Serious Dollars"



August 7, 2000

Editorial
Ontario, Calif., Airport Marketing Needs Serious Dollars
The Business Press, Ontario, CA


Aug. 7--The city of Los Angeles paid more than lip service to its
second-largest airport when it commissioned a thorough study of how best to
market Ontario International Airport.

Now Los Angeles World Airports, the Los Angeles city agency that owns Los
Angeles International, Ontario International and two other airports, has a
prime opportunity to silence the critics who claim the airport agency
doesn't put its money where its mouth is.

The study by Cannondale & Associates lays out a comprehensive plan for
increasing both passenger and cargo traffic at the Inland Empire's primary
air gateway. That plan targets the airport's largest pool of potential
users -- the 2.9 million people who live within a 45-minute drive -- as well
as travel agents and all major airlines.

The study identifies five major cities that ONT should target for nonstop
service: Albuquerque, Boston, Honolulu, New York and Washington, D.C. It
names five other cities to which service should be expanded: Atlanta,
Chicago, Dallas, Denver and San Francisco.

To tout the Ontario airport's virtues -- including a new, $270 million
passenger terminal complex that's anything but congested -- the study
recommends a multipronged marketing effort via direct mail, print, radio and
billboard advertising.

"They've covered all the elements," Ontario City Manager Greg Devereaux told
The Business Press the night the study was released.

Unfortunately, the best study in the world is worth little if it lies on a
shelf and collects dust, as commissioned reports too often do.

Airport and Ontario city officials have railed against local critics who
claim that the metropolis to the west pays little heed to ONT, and instead
pours the vast majority of its resources and efforts into
bursting-at-the-seams LAX. Ontario officials are quick to give the Los
Angeles airports agency much of the credit for landing two new carriers at
ONT in recent months -- Air Canada, which started daily nonstop service to
Toronto on June 5, and JetBlue Airways, which commenced nightly red-eye
nonstop service to New York's Kennedy International on July 21.

How much credit Los Angeles officials deserve for the new East Coast and
international flights is the topic of hot debate in some circles. But the
airports agency could silence more than 30 years of criticism over its
alleged slighting of ONT if L.A. officials and the Los Angeles Convention
and Visitors Bureau quickly begin anteing up the funds necessary to initiate
the ONT marketing plan called for in the landmark study.

An Ontario airport spokeswoman said she expects L.A. to announce an ONT
marketing budget this fall. Meanwhile, the city of Ontario is moving as
aggressively as it can on its own ONT marketing effort. The city has put
together an advertising and PR campaign that targets business and leisure
travelers both in this region and outside Southern California.

But Ontario -- even with the help it plans to enlist from neighboring
cities, service organizations and businesses -- doesn't have anywhere near
the funding sources available to Los Angeles. Ontario hopes to raise in the
low six figures for its marketing efforts. But the comprehensive marketing
plan called for in the Cannondale study is going to require much more
money --funds that should be committed and gathered by the owner of the
airport, the city of Los Angeles.

Only by preventing the ONT marketing study from becoming just another
expensive dust-catcher will Los Angeles airport officials prove once and for
all that they have Ontario International Airport's -- and the Inland
Empire's -- best interests at heart.

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