Panel OKs Contract for Ads at L.A., Ontario Airports

Joining airports the world over, officials decided Thursday to allow advertising in terminals at Los Angeles and Ontario international airports.

The Airport Commission voted unanimously to give a six-year contract to JCDecaux to install 365 advertising displays at LAX and 31 at Ontario. The deal is expected to bring up to $80 million to the city's airport agency over the life of the contract.

But commissioners deferred a decision on how to bid 51 lucrative concessions at LAX, after hearing from multiple speakers representing retail and food shops. Officials plan to work with labor leaders to ensure that the bid proposal protects existing jobs and pay levels at the airport. The commission is expected to take up the matter again this fall.

Commissioners hailed the awarding of the advertising contract.

"Outside impressions of our airports are that they are obsolete," Commissioner Fernando Torres-Gil told JCDecaux representatives. "It's your responsibility, of sorts, to help us improve our image."

Airport planners for years had hesitated to install advertising at LAX because they feared it would interfere with signs directing travelers around the airport.

But officials are looking for new ways to raise money as airline revenue sags.

Advertising is so ubiquitous at other airports that it's likely that many passengers hadn't even noticed that it's never been present at 78-year-old LAX.

"This has indeed been a relatively long process," said Bernard Parisot, president and co-chief executive of JCDecaux. "This is really creating a totally new approach to airport advertising."

By year's end, travelers riding escalators down to baggage carousels may be treated to movie trailers on 6-by-12-foot screens suspended from the ceiling. When they arrive to claim their bags, passengers may see ads on large lighted suitcases perched on carousels.

Others checking in for flights in the Tom Bradley International Terminal may be able to look up and see massive "wave" displays that feature motorized panels that are latched together hanging from the ceiling.

Pictures on the displays change at the same time the displays undulate.

Officials expect to consider advertising outside the terminals and in parking garages in the future.

JCDecaux will also research other marketing opportunities at the airports -- such as bringing in a company that makes high-end fixtures to retrofit LAX's outdated restrooms.

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