Airport plan comment period opens for LA/Ontario International

While growth at LA/Ontario International Airport has stagnated during the past year, officials there are still planning for the next wave of passenger growth.

The airport, which served about 7 million passengers last year, has for several years been in the process of revising its master plan, which would dictate expansion at the airport for the coming years.

On Wednesday, airport officials invited the public and representatives of government agencies to see their plans and to offer input on what effects the airport's expansion plans may have on the area. Officials are accepting public comments through Sept. 24.

Officials at Los Angeles World Airports, the Los Angeles city agency that owns the airport in Ontario, have been preparing the environmental impact report for the past two years and had a similar public review in 2004.

After that review, plans for a cargo terminal on the south side of the airport were scrapped, said Harold Johnson, an airport spokesman. Wednesday's meeting to hear the public's concerns about the airport plans is encouraged by the California Environmental Quality Act, he said.

The airport's master plan calls for moving the two runways southeast to accommodate a new taxiway. New plans also call for a section of the south side of the airport to be set aside for cargo development.

The airport's twin terminals were built to accommodate 10 million passengers a year. Once the airport has hit that capacity for two years, its master plan calls for the construction of a third terminal, but the environmental review would need to be complete before that plan goes forward.

A third terminal would add the capacity for about 5 million more passengers, officials said.

Southern California Associated Governments, a transportation-planning group made up of six counties in the region, expects Ontario to reach a capacity of 30 million passengers in 2030. That would entail building additional terminals beyond the proposed third terminal.

Based on the recent growth rate, the passenger volume would not reach 10 million until sometime in the next decade.

That should give planners plenty of time to ready expansion plans, although a draft of the master plan and environmental report won't be ready for at least a year, when the public again would be invited to comment, Johnson said.