“Sides at loggerheads in Ontario airport feud”

The Palm Springs (CA) Desert Sun
  RIVERSIDE - The city of Ontario's lawsuit seeking to wrest control of Ontario International Airport from the city of Los Angeles remains active after lawyers for both sides told a judge this week that out-of-court negotiations never gained traction.  Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gloria Trask had directed the parties in December to hold talks in the hope of reaching a settlement, but there appeared to be little chance of the litigation coming to a halt anytime soon.  The No. 1 issue over which there's no agreement? Money, according to published reports.  The city of Los Angeles is seeking more than $400 million to surrender control of the airport.  The next status conference in the case is scheduled June 6.  The plaintiffs are alleging breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty against Los Angeles World Airports, a municipal agency that also runs Los Angeles International and Van Nuys airports. LAWA has been in control of the Ontario airport since 1985 and maintains there's no evidence of a failure to faithfully manage the facility.  Ontario wants the Joint Powers Agreement that placed the airport under LAWA's regional authority dissolved, alleging that the agency - and by extension, the city of Los Angeles - has neglected the airport and left it at a competitive disadvantage by keeping ramp fees high while lowering them at LAX in order to draw more traffic there.  Ontario filed its suit in June after negotiations between officials from LAWA and Ontario hit an impasse. One of the chief stumbling blocks was Los Angeles' request for a $475 million payment to relinquish the airport. According to LAWA, nearly $500 million has been invested in runway and other terminal upgrades since the late 1990s.  Supporters of the "Set Ontario Free" campaign made a counteroffer of $50 million cash, as well as offered to assume debts attached to the airport, according to Roy Goldberg, an attorney representing Ontario.  Most inland governing bodies back an independent Ontario airport. Last year, the Ontario International Airport Authority was formed to handle an ownership transfer. The authority commissioned a study indicating that, without steps to increase the airport's visibility through general promotional campaigns and direct marketing to airlines, its future prospects will continue to dim.   Do you have an opinion about this story? Share it with other readers in our CAA Discussion Forums http://www.californiaaviation.org/dcfp/dcboard.php