Ontario International Airport

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This article is about the airport in California, United States. For airports in Ontario, Canada, see List of airports in Ontario. For the airport in Ontario, OR, see Ontario Municipal Airport.
Ontario International Airport
Airport type Public
Owner Ontario International Airport Authority[1]
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
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
ONT is located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area
ONT is located in California
ONT is located in the US
Location within the Los Angeles metropolitan area
Direction Length Surface
ft m
8L/26R 12,197 3,718 Concrete
8R/26L 10,200 3,109 Concrete
Statistics (2015)
Aircraft operations 88,074
Passengers 4,209,311

Ontario International Airport (IATA: ONTICAO: KONTFAA LID: ONT) 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 currently owned and operated by the city of Ontario.[4] In 2008, 6.2 million passengers used the airport, 13.5% less than 2007.[5] Passenger volume in April 2011 was down 4.6%, compared to the previous year.[6]

In early 2011 Southwest Airlines carried 54% of the passengers.[6]

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.


Ontario Municipal Airport[edit]

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.[7] 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 Lockheed P-38 Lightning training base and North American P-51 Mustang operating base.

Ontario International Airport[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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 the new and larger airport terminal opened, designed by DMJM Aviation .[8]

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.

LA/Ontario International Airport[edit]

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.[9] 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]

Ownership and control issues[edit]

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.[10][11][12]

In 2013, LAWA offered to return the airport to local control for a purchase price of $474mm, which was rejected.[13] Local groups then sued the city of Los Angeles, a suit that was temporarily suspended when both sides agreed to attempt to work together.[14]

In 2015, Los Angeles World Airports tentatively agreed to turn over ownership of Ontario Airport to the city of Ontario, according to the Los Angeles Times.[4] LAWA is "to be reimbursed for its investments in the facility, job protection for the facility's 182 employees and the settlement of a lawsuit in which Ontario sought to regain control of the airport. ... Once ownership is transferred, the airport will be operated by the Ontario International Airport Authority, formed under a joint-powers agreement between the city of Ontario and San Bernardino County."

The transfer could not occur for at least a year from the 2015 tentative agreement, as formal approval is still needed from the Federal Aviation Administration and other units of government.

Present-day operations[edit]

Ontario Airport is owned by the city of Ontario. The airport covers 1,741 acres (705 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). It is the West Coast air and truck hub for UPS Airlines and is a major distribution point for FedEx Express. Ontario International Airport was a hub for ExpressJet, which began service to 14 destinations in April 2007. This service ended on September 2, 2008.[15] ONT currently has more than 64 daily departures and arrivals.[citation needed]

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.[16]

Noise restrictions[edit]

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 10 pm to 7 am 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.[17][clarification needed] Because of this, Ontario's 10pm to 7am operations now take off and land in the same direction.


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 Field in La Verne, Cable Airport in Upland, or San Bernardino International Airport.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations Terminal
Aeroméxico Guadalajara 2
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma 2
Alaska Airlines
operated by SkyWest Airlines
Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma 2
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix–Sky Harbor 4
American Eagle Phoenix–Sky Harbor (ends November 17, 2016) 4
Delta Air Lines Salt Lake City 2
Delta Connection Salt Lake City 2
Southwest Airlines Chicago–Midway, Denver, Las Vegas, Oakland, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), Sacramento, San Jose (CA) 4
United Airlines Denver 2
United Express San Francisco 2
Volaris Guadalajara 2


Airlines Destinations
ABX Air Dallas/Fort Worth, Wilmington
Ameriflight Bakersfield, Burbank, Palm Springs, Tijuana
Air Transport International Charlotte, Chicago/Rockford
FedEx Express Fort Worth/Alliance, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Oakland, San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma
FedEx Feeder
operated by West Air
Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo
Kalitta Air Philadelphia
UPS Airlines Albuquerque, Anchorage, Chicago/Rockford, Columbia (SC), Denver, Des Moines, Fresno, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Kailua–Kona, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Louisville, Oakland, Philadelphia, Portland (OR), San Jose (CA), Seattle–Boeing, Tokyo–Narita
Seasonal: Hartford, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Reno/Tahoe


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from ONT (August 2015 – July 2016)[18]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona 374,000 American/US Airways, Southwest
2 Oakland, California 241,000 Southwest
3 Sacramento, California 235,000 Southwest
4 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 218,000 American
5 Las Vegas, Nevada 168,000 Southwest
6 San Jose, California 133,000 Southwest
7 Denver, Colorado 127,000 Southwest, United
8 Seattle/Tacoma, Washington 126,000 Alaska
9 San Francisco, California 119,000 United
10 Salt Lake City, Utah 83,000 Delta

Airline market share[edit]

Largest Airlines at ONT (Apr 2015 – Mar 2016)[19]
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Southwest Airlines 2,374,000 58.70%
2 American Airlines1 646,000 15.96%
3 SkyWest Airlines 584,000 14.44%
4 Alaska Airlines 172,000 4.25%
5 Mesa Airlines 112,000 2.76%

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at ONT, 1992 through 2015[20][21][22]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
1992 6,121,623 2002 6,516,858 2012 4,318,994
1993 6,192,035 2003 6,547,877 2013 3,969,974
1994 6,386,000 2004 6,937,337 2014 4,127,278
1995 6,405,097 2005 7,213,528 2015 4,209,311
1996 6,252,838 2006 7,049,904
1997 6,300,862 2007 7,207,150
1998 6,434,858 2008 6,232,761
1999 6,578,005 2009 4,886,695
2000 6,756,086 2010 4,808,241
2001 6,702,400 2011 4,551,875

Cargo operations[edit]

Ontario is a major southwestern gateway hub for UPS. Over 200 pilots are based at the Ontario hub. Ontario 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.

In 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.
  • In 2003, the interior of the terminal was used for the filming of the music video for Kanye West's All Falls Down.
  • 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.[23]
  • 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.[24]
  • 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.[25]
  • 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.[26]
  • 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.


  1. ^ http://ontariooiaa.com/about/
  2. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for ONT (Form 5010 PDF), effective December 20, 2007
  3. ^ "Statistics — Volume of Air Traffic". Los Angeles World Airports. January 2016. Retrieved July 24, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Ontario Agreement Story". August 6, 2015. 
  5. ^ ONT passenger statistics for 2008
  6. ^ a b Parks, Mary (May 27, 2011). "Traffic Drops at Ontario International Airport". NBC Los Angeles. Retrieved May 27, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Ontario Air National Guard Station". California State Military Museum. Retrieved February 18, 2013. 
  8. ^ Architectural Glass Design
  9. ^ Passenger growth at Ontario airport stagnant | Business | PE.com | Southern California News | News for Inland Southern California
  10. ^ Locals Want to Run Ontario Airport, KNBC-TV
  11. ^ Ontario: L.A. should relinquish control of Ontario Airport, Daily Breeze
  12. ^ Regional support for Inland control of Ontario airport, The BizPress
  13. ^ Ontario rejects $474 million offer for airport, Daily Bulletin
  14. ^ Feinstein says LA should work with Ontario, Daily Breeze
  15. ^ Hamilton, Dane (July 9, 2008). "ExpressJet suspends commercial operations". Reuters. 
  16. ^ Scauzillo, Steve (April 28, 2014). "Gold Line to Ontario Airport off track; bill withdrawn by author". San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Retrieved 2014-12-05. 
  17. ^ "FAA suspends reverse traffic operations at US airports". Airport Technology. 2012-08-09. 
  18. ^ "RITA | BTS | Transtats". transtats.bts.gov. September 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2016. 
  19. ^ "RITA | BTS | Transtats". transtats.bts.gov. May 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2016. 
  20. ^ Press release. Retrieved on Feb 12, 2015.
  21. ^ Ontario Airport Statistics. Retrieved on May 3, 2014.
  22. ^ http://www.pe.com/articles/airport-792810-passenger-cargo.html ONTARIO: Airport passenger, cargo volumes climbed in 2015 Retrieved on Feb 19, 2016.
  23. ^ Frasher, Steven Airport Serves as Backdrop for Hollywood Movie Scenes 'Press Enterprise' - Retrieved January 27, 2016
  24. ^ Verrier, Richard L.A. plays Tehran in Ben Affleck caper 'Argo' 'Los Angeles Times' - Retrieved January 27, 2016
  25. ^ City of Ontario Need to do some star watching? No need to go to Hollywood 'Ontario EDA' - Retrieved January 27, 2016
  26. ^ Evan, Maria Here Are the Actual Sites From "Mad Men's" Season 7 Premiere 'Franklin Avenue' - Retrieved January 27, 2016

External links[edit]