Projects Will Relieve California Travelers' Walk to the Airport

ONTARIO -- A pair of projects are planned to keep travelers at Ontario International Airport dry during the rain and cool during summer heat.

Los Angeles World Airports, the agency that operates ONT, will extend the sidewalk canopy at the airport's two terminals and install bus shelters along the curbside where passengers board charter buses.

"It's part of our customer service enhancement objective, to make our passengers more comfortable -- in the heat and in the rain," said airport spokeswoman Maria Tesoro-Fermin.

The sidewalk canopy extension is needed because the existing overhead canopies outside the two terminals aren't sufficient to protect travelers from rain.

"They're not exactly attached to the terminals," Tesoro-Fermin said. "They're separate."

According to a report to the Board of Airport Commissioners, the gap between the terminals' entrances and the edge of the overhead canopies has led to complaints from travelers and airlines.

"During incidents of rain, the existing canopies offer little protection, resulting in a poor level of service for curbside check-in and baggage-handling operations with wet passengers and damaged luggage and airline equipment," the report states.

The project has already gone through plans and specifications, and the city of Ontario approved a permit for the construction work earlier this year.

Once bids from construction firms are received, the project is expected to begin in May 2006 and be completed by February 2007, Tesoro-Fermin said.

Also, because the existing loading area for passengers using charter bus services does not include a canopy or seats, the airport will install two shelters just east of the terminals where passengers load those buses.

Travelers using airport shuttles, hotel buses or rental car pick-up services have a separate loading area that includes seating and overhead canopies. When the terminals were built in 1998, charter bus loading was designated for an area farther away because of the longer amount of time the buses need to be parked while loading.

About 25 different charter bus companies serve ONT, with more than 80 trips per month, and as many as 37,000 passengers each year use charter bus services at ONT, according to a report to the Board of Airport Commissioners.

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