LA ONT Passengers Spend More than LAX Travelers

ONTARIO - LA/Ontario International Airport might be dwarfed by its bigger neighbor to the west in most ways, but there's one category in which ONT tops LAX: concession revenue.

According to the recently released annual report from Los Angeles World Airports, which operates both ONT and LAX, the average Ontario passenger spends 60 percent more on concessions than his counterpart in Los Angeles.

Income from concessions includes revenue from food, parking fees, duty-free shops and other income, such as car rentals.

While LAX's total concession revenue was far higher than ONT's, it's higher in Ontario on a "per-enplanement" basis - that is, the average spent by each departing passenger.

During the last fiscal year, ONT brought in an average of $11.02 in concession revenue for each passenger. At LAX, the average was $6.97 each.

Also, concession income makes up 45 percent of ONT's total revenue, compared to 38 percent at LAX.

ONT's higher level of income came even though the airport has fewer parking spaces and charges less for parking, which makes up the bulk of the airports' concession revenue.

There are nearly 6,800 parking spaces at ONT, with rates ranging from $2 per hour near the terminal to $6 daily in the economy lots.

By comparison, LAX has 8,000 spaces inside its terminal area, and several thousand more at two off-site lots. Rates are $3 for the first hour in most lots, up to $30 a day. The economy lots are $8 and $10 daily.

The numbers are a good sign for ONT, especially as many airports around the country work to remodel their shops and food courts into mini-shopping centers.

"Airports are going up-market to become the main experience of a traveler's journey," said Elie Maalouf of airport concession firm HMS Host at a conference hosted by the Airports Council International-North America in November.

Additionally, ONT's concession income is increasing at a quicker pace than passenger growth. Since fiscal year 2004, the number of passengers has increased 4.2 percent, and concession revenue has shot up 32 percent.

Final data for calendar year 2006 hasn't yet been released, but through November, the airport's total passenger traffic was down 2.3 percent over the same period in 2005 - after several years of growth.

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