Ontario Airport celebrates 30 millionth passenger since ownership transfer

Ontario Airport officials welcome the 30 millionth passenger.
From left: Atif Elkadi, CEO, Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA); 30 millionth passenger Jessica Burchett; Alan D. Wapner, president, OIAA. Photo: Ontario Airport

Ontario International Airport (ONT) has celebrated its 30 millionth passenger since the transition of the airport to local ownership six years ago.

When Jessica Burchett arrived at Ontario International Airport yesterday, she had no idea she was about to become an instant celebrity as the 30 millionth passenger.

A surprise celebration

The departing Southwest Airlines passenger and Rancho Cucamonga resident could barely contain herself when her boarding position was announced as the lucky traveler, winning free round-trip airline tickets during a festive – and surprise – a celebration at Gate 404.

“I won! I can’t believe it,” Burchett screamed as she was called up to the podium, unaware moments earlier that a celebration was being planned.

It wasn’t until she got to the gate, and saw the balloons, signage and TV cameras that she realized something was up.

In fact, she wasn’t even scheduled to be on the departing flight to Denver, with a connection to Minneapolis, but changed her travel arrangements the night before.

“We literally were on a later night flight, but I needed to get to Minnesota, so I changed the flight. And there was so much fun, and here we are. I’m super excited,” she said.

Burchett said she frequently flies out of ONT to attend her children’s sporting events.

“It’s super convenient. It’s a few miles from the house. It’s easy to get in and out of. It’s my favorite airport,” she said.

As for the free tickets, courtesy of Southwest: “I travel so much for my kids sports that this is a money saver and it’s phenomenal.”

Ontario Airport transition to private ownership

Ontario International Airport (ONT) is a medium-sized airport located in the city of Ontario, California, in the United States.

It is approximately 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles and is one of four airports serving the Greater Los Angeles Area.

ONT is a full-service airport with two terminals and four runways. It offers nonstop flights to several major cities in the United States, including New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Seattle, as well as to several international destinations in Mexico and Taiwan.

Ontario International Airport was transferred to private ownership on November 1, 2016.

The transfer of ownership was from Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA), a joint powers authority formed by the city of Ontario and San Bernardino County.

This transfer of ownership was part of a landmark agreement between the cities of Los Angeles and Ontario to return control of ONT to local ownership and management.

Since then, the airport has undergone significant improvements and expansion, including the construction of a new international terminal and the addition of several new airlines and routes.

Passenger volume increase

The celebration of 30 million passengers comes a little more than six years since ONT’s return to local ownership.

In that time, passenger volumes have increased by more than one-third as ONT has become one of the aviation industry’s great success stories.

Ontario International welcomed more than 5.7 million airline travelers last year, 2.8% more than 2019 and its highest passenger volume since 2008. It was also among an elite group of airports in the U.S. that, on a full-year basis, exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

“It’s not about the number – 30 million passengers. It’s about 30 million lives being impacted. That’s 30 million people meeting up with their families”

“It’s 30 million travelers who are contributing to the local economy, creating thousands of jobs for folks out here. That’s what this milestone really means,” said Alan D. Wapner, president of the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) Board of Commissioners.

“On behalf of the nearly 200 Southwest Employees at ONT, we’re thrilled to be part of this exciting milestone, connecting our Customers to the people and places that matter most in their lives,” said Jesse Perez, Ontario Station Manager for Southwest Airlines.

“We’re thankful for this 38-year partnership with Ontario International and look forward to our next milestone.”

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read
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