Ontario International Airport

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This article is about an airport in California, United States. For airports in Ontario, Canada, see List of airports in Ontario.
LA/Ontario International Airport
Los Angeles - Ontario International Airport (logo).svg
Airport type Public
Owner Los Angeles World Airports
Operator Los Angeles World Airports
Serves Ontario, California / Inland Empire, California
Location Ontario, California
Hub for UPS Airlines
Elevation AMSL 944 ft / 288 m
Coordinates 34°03′22″N 117°36′04″W / 34.05611°N 117.60111°W / 34.05611; -117.60111Coordinates: 34°03′22″N 117°36′04″W / 34.05611°N 117.60111°W / 34.05611; -117.60111
Website www.lawa.org/ont
ONT is located in Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Location within the Los Angeles metropolitan area
Direction Length Surface
ft m
8L/26R 12,198 3,718 Concrete
8R/26L 10,200 3,109 Concrete
Statistics (2006, 2010)
Aircraft operations (2006) 136,410
Based aircraft (2006) 25
Passengers (2014) 4,127,278

LA/Ontario International Airport (IATA: ONTICAO: KONTFAA LID: ONT), formerly and still commonly known as Ontario International Airport, is a public airport two miles east of downtown Ontario, a city in San Bernardino County, California, US, and about 38 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles. It is owned and operated by the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), an agency of the city of Los Angeles. In 2008, 6.2 million passengers used the airport, 13.5% less than 2007.[3] Passenger volume in April 2011 was down 4.6%, compared to the previous year.[4]

In early 2011 Southwest Airlines carried 54% of the passengers.[4]

For a number of years, the airport operated alongside Ontario Air National Guard Station, which was closed as a result of the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.


In 1923 a landing field was established east of Central Avenue (3 miles (4.8 km) west of the current airport) on land leased from the Union Pacific Railroad. The airfield was named Latimer Field after an orange-packing company next to the airstrip. An airport was built there by one of the first flying clubs in southern California, the Friends of Ontario Airport. In 1929, the city of Ontario purchased 30 acres (12 ha), now in the southwest corner of the airport, for $12,000, and established the Ontario Municipal Airport.

In 1941 the city bought 470 acres (190 ha) around the airport and approved construction of new runways, which were completed by 1942, with funds from the Works Progress Administration. The 6,200-foot (1,900 m) east/west runway and the 4,700-foot (1,400 m) northeast/southwest runway cost $350,000.[5] On February 27, 1942, an Army Air Corps plane made the first landing at the new airport. By 1943, the airport was an Army Air Corps P-38 training base and P-51 operating base.

In 1946 Ontario Municipal Airport was renamed "Ontario International Airport" because of the transpacific cargo flights originating there. In 1949 Western Airlines began scheduled flights; in 1955 Bonanza Air Lines flights started. Western and Bonanza nonstops did not reach beyond Las Vegas. In 1962 Western began nonstop flights to San Francisco (one Electra daily). In 1967 Bonanza began nonstop F27 flights to Phoenix.

Ontario and Los Angeles entered into a joint powers agreement, making Ontario International Airport part of the Los Angeles regional airports system. In 1968 the airport saw its first scheduled jet flights. In 1969 Continental Airlines started 720B nonstops to Denver and Chicago; Air California started 737 flights to San Jose; Pacific Southwest Airlines started San Francisco flights; and Western began 737 nonstops to Sacramento and Salt Lake City. In 1970 United Airlines started a nonstop to Chicago and American started flights to Dallas (and Chicago, for a short time). In October 1974, Ontario hosted the Concorde supersonic airliner during a promotional round-the-world flight.

In 1981 a second east-west runway, 26L/8R, was built, necessitating the removal of the old NE-SW runway 4/22. Remnants of the 4/22 runway are visible in the present-day taxiways. With the completion of the new runway, the existing runway 25/7 became 26R/8L. In 1985, the city of Los Angeles acquired Ontario International Airport outright from the city of Ontario. In 1987, Runway 26R/8L was extended to the east to bring the two runway thresholds side by side, so aircraft would be higher over neighborhoods. 26R/8L became the main departing runway and 26L/8R the main arrival runway. In 1998, a new terminal designed by DMJM Aviation opened.[6] In 2005–2006: Runway 26R/8L was repaved, strengthened, and received storm drains and better runway lighting, including centerline lights, were added. Taxiways D, S, R, U, and W were widened, and better taxiways and runway outlines[clarification needed] were added. Aeroméxico started seasonal flights to Guadalajara and Mexico City, the only international flights from/to Ontario. In 2006, Ontario International Airport became LA/Ontario International Airport. The "LA" portion was added to remind fliers of Los Angeles and to avoid confusion with the province of Ontario in Canada.[7] In 2007, Southwest Airlines carried 49.38% of the airport's passengers. Also in the top five were United Airlines/United Express (8.64%); Delta Air Lines (7.93%); US Airways (7.08%); and American Airlines (6.18%).[needs update]

Present-day operations[edit]

Runway layout at ONT

The airport covers 1,700 acres (690 ha) and has two runways. It is the third major airport in the area after Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and John Wayne Airport (SNA). LA/Ontario International Airport is less crowded than LAX. It is the West Coast air and truck hub for UPS and is a major distribution point for FedEx Express. LA/Ontario International Airport was a hub for ExpressJet, which began service to 14 destinations in April 2007. This service ended on September 2, 2008.[8]

Thanks to Ontario's long runways (runway 8L/26R is longer than any at LAX), it is often an alternate landing site for large aircraft destined for LAX. Due to Ontario's small customs facilities and limited connecting flights, such flights typically do not disembark passengers at Ontario. Diverted aircraft are typically refueled, before continuing on to LAX.

The airport is about 38 miles (61 km) east of downtown Los Angeles, 18 miles (29 km) west of downtown San Bernardino and 14 miles (23 km) northwest of downtown Riverside. Motorists can use the San Bernardino Freeway (Interstate 10), Ontario Freeway (Interstate 15), or the Pomona Freeway (State Route 60). It is served by Omnitrans bus route 61 and by private shuttles.

ONT currently has more than 64 daily departures and arrivals.

LA/Ontario Airport is owned by the city of Los Angeles (LA World Airports). Ownership and control of the airport became an issue in late 2010 when the city of Ontario, supported by the Southern California Association of Governments, criticized and questioned LAWA's operation of the airport.[9][10][11]

In 2013, LAWA offered to return the airport to local control for a purchase price of $474mm, which was rejected.[12] Local groups then sued, a suit that was suspended when both sides agreed to work together.[13]

Noise restrictions[edit]

LA/Ontario has few noise restrictions/abatement rules, unlike other Southern California airports such as John Wayne Airport, Bob Hope Airport, Long Beach Airport, and San Diego International Airport, which all have very strict policies. The airport is allowed to operate 24/7, but during the hours of 10pm to 7am all aircraft must arrive from the east on runway 26L or 26R and take-off to the east on runway 8R or 8L, depending on ATC instruction. This procedure is known as "Contra-Flow" operations and applies to turbo-jet or turbo-fan aircraft. This procedure is similar to the one employed by LAX, where all landings are conducted from the west and all takeoffs are to the west (known as "over-ocean" operations) between midnight and 6:30 a.m. Both of these procedures are employed as long as weather and/or construction activity permits. This is done in an effort to be better neighbors and minimize the noise impact to the surrounding communities as much as possible. As of August 6, 2012, the FAA has suspended all airports from opposite end take-offs and landings.[clarification needed] Because of this, Ontario's 10pm to 7am operations now take off and land in the same direction.


LA/Ontario International Airport has three terminals. The terminal numbering scheme is designed to accommodate future growth. The airport's master plan calls for five terminals to be spaced adjacent to and in between the existing Terminals 2 and 4. The "international terminal" (which is a small building designed primarily to segregate arriving international passengers to clear customs) would be razed and be part of the new Terminal 1. One terminal would be dedicated exclusively to Southwest Airlines and the other to United Airlines, while the other airlines would share the remaining terminals.

Terminal 2 has 265,000 square feet (24,600 m2) and 12 gates (201–212). Terminal 4 has 265,000 square feet (24,600 m2) and 14 gates (401–414). The International terminal has 2 gates.

Ontario Airport formerly had two other terminals: the main terminal and a small terminal for Delta Air Lines and SkyWest Airlines. The old terminals are west of the current terminals. The old control tower is still used as an auxiliary tower. The previous design was of the traditional walk-up type with only one jetway gate; the new terminals use the modern jetway system. The old terminals currently house the administration and the USO. The old terminals will be demolished when the new Terminal 1 is constructed.

Remote parking is located on the east end of the airport (moved from its former location at the west end). On the east end is a ground transportation center that consolidates the rental car companies in one central location. A circulator bus circles the airport and provides connections to each of the terminals, rental car and remote parking lots, and public transit stops.

General aviation is located at the south side of the airport, although most general aviation pilots tend to use a number of nearby airports: Redlands Airport, Chino Airport, Brackett Airport in La Verne, Cable Airport in Upland, or Rialto Municipal Airport.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations Terminal
Aeromexico Guadalajara, Mexico City (resumes April 7, 2015)[14] 2
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma 2
Alaska Airlines
operated by SkyWest Airlines
Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma 2
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth 4
Delta Air Lines Salt Lake City
Seasonal: Atlanta
Delta Connection Salt Lake City 2
Southwest Airlines Chicago-Midway, Denver, Las Vegas, Oakland, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Jose (CA) 4
United Express Denver, Houston-Intercontinental, San Francisco 2
US Airways Phoenix 4
US Airways Express Phoenix 4
Volaris Guadalajara 2


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from ONT (January 2014 - December 2014)[15]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Phoenix, Arizona (PHX) 389,410 Southwest, US Airways
2 Oakland, California 242,980 Southwest
3 Sacramento, California 220,990 Southwest
4 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 199,950 American
5 Las Vegas, Nevada 187,050 Southwest
6 San Jose, California 134,380 Southwest
7 Seattle/Tacoma, Washington 133,030 Alaska
8 Denver, Colorado 119,440 Southwest, United
9 Salt Lake City, Utah 85,210 Delta
10 San Francisco, California 78,120 United

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at Ontario Airport, 1992 thru 2014[16][17]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
2010 4,808,241 2000 6,756,086
2009 4,886,695 1999 6,578,005
2008 6,232,761 1998 6,434,858
2007 7,207,150 1997 6,300,862
2006 7,049,904 1996 6,252,838
2005 7,213,528 1995 6,405,097
2014 4,127,278 2004 6,937,337 1994 6,386,000
2013 3,969,974 2003 6,547,877 1993 6,192,035
2012 4,318,994 2002 6,516,858 1992 6,121,623
2011 4,551,875 2001 6,702,400

Cargo operations[edit]

Ontario is a major southwestern gateway hub for UPS. Over 200 pilots are based at the Ontario hub. LA/ONT is the UPS Western Region hub for both air and trucking operations within a 13-state region. In addition to serving intra-regional traffic, the hub links to UPS's global hub in Louisville, Kentucky. The Ontario hub processes inbound UPS Next Day Air and UPS 2nd Day Air packages destined for Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, San Diego, Riverside and Ventura counties. It provides outbound package delivery service from homes and businesses in the Inland Valley for delivery to destinations around the world. ONT serves as gateway for UPS' cargo flights to and from China. The Ontario facility sorts and distributes a majority of UPS international packages bound for delivery to the Pacific Rim. Four of the six direct weekly flights flown by UPS to China originate at the Ontario hub.

Popular culture[edit]

  • In 1946, an airplane "graveyard" located at the airport, containing surplus and retired aircraft from the recent war, was used for a scene in the Samuel Goldwyn film The Best Years of Our Lives.
  • In 1961, the exterior terminal building was used for "Lincoln Airport" in the film Back Street starring Susan Hayward and John Gavin.
  • In 1968, the airport was used for the film The Counterfeit Killer, starring Jack Lord and Shirley Knight.
  • In 2001, the airport was used for the film Blow.
  • The interior and exterior of Terminal 1 and the adjacent parking lot were used to portray a 1960s version of Miami International Airport in the 2002 motion picture Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.
  • The modern airport terminal was used as Charles DeGaulle Airport in Paris, France for the film View From the Top with Gweneth Paltrow in 2003.
  • In the same year, 2003, filming took place with Brittany Murphy and Ashton Kutcher in the movie Just Married.
  • The old Ontario terminals were used as an interior stand-in for Los Angeles International Airport on the 2004–2006 television series LAX.
  • In January 2006, Ontario Airport was featured, by name, in Season 5 of the television drama series 24, in which terrorists took control of the airport and took several hostages.
  • The airport and its original terminal building were featured in the final scenes of the 2007 film Zodiac.
  • The episode Goodbye, Michael of The Office (2011) used one of the new interior terminals.
  • Parts of the series Pan-Am (2012–2013) used the interior ticket area of the old airport.
  • The final scenes of Argo (2012), were filmed in the interior of the terminal of the old building. This was made to represent the Tehran Airport.
  • At least one of the scenes of the movie Saving Mr. Banks (Disney, 2013) utilizes the exterior of the old airport to represent Los Angeles in the early 1960s.
  • Ontario was featured on an episode of Top Gear America when heavy duty trucks were towing a Boeing 727.
  • The airport was featured on the series finale of Dexter.
  • Multiple scenes in the 2013 film Enough Said were shot in the interior of the airport
  • In the season 7 premiere of Mad Men, set in 1969, the exterior of the airport is used to show Don Draper's arrival in Los Angeles.
  • In Miss Congeniality 2 the old terminal was used for the Vegas airport.
  • In the Hangover 2 the airport scenes were filmed in Terminal 2.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]