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COVID-19 testing at Ontario International Airport in time for holiday travel season

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More than a quarter-million passengers expected during holidays; drive-thru COVID-19 testing site opens today at Ontario International Airport just in time for the holiday travel season.

A drive-thru COVID-19 testing site opens today at Ontario International Airport (ONT) just in time for the holiday travel season as airport officials forecast that approximately 280,000 passengers will travel through the Southern California gateway.

Testing is available in parking lot 3 between terminals 2 and 4 from 3-9 p.m. today (Monday, November 23) , and thereafter from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. seven days a week. Tests are administered by Covid Clinic, a Southern California-based non-profit which operates testing sites in California and Arizona. ONT is Covid Clinic’s 24th location.

Rapid tests with results available in as few as 20 minutes are among a variety of antigen and antibody tests offered. Rapid test specimens are processed on-site while others are sent to local third-party laboratories with results generally reported in two to four days.

“The availability of COVID-19 testing adds a new level of service and convenience to the Ontario airport experience,” said Mark Thorpe, chief executive officer of the Ontario International Airport Authority. “It is our hope that on-site testing administered in the comfort of a passenger vehicle will provide peace of mind to our customers, guests and airport employees, as well as any of our neighbors who want to be tested.”

Reservations for testing at ONT, and more detailed test information and pricing, is available here. Patients may be able to receive reimbursement from their health insurance provider for all or a portion of their COVID-19 test.

Thanksgiving holiday travel spanning 11 days from Friday, November 20th through Monday, November 30th is expected to bring more than 100,000 air travelers through ONT, based on current airline schedules, while more than 180,000 are expected to depart and arrive at ONT during the winter holidays from Thursday, December 17th through Sunday, January 3rd. The total number of passengers expected in the coming weeks is 60% of the traveler volume estimated for the period last year.

Surges in COVID-19 infections across the country, government orders to pause restarts and guidance from public health officials to limit family gatherings could cause holiday travel volumes to fluctuate even more, however, as most passengers are purchasing airline tickets within 30 days of departure, Thorpe cautioned.

Nonetheless, as air travel shows signs of gradual resurgence, ONT has recorded six straight months of traffic growth since reaching its low point in April when passenger levels declined by 93%.

Ontario’s recovery ranks first among airports in California and third nationally, having regained roughly 50% of passenger volume compared to a year ago.

International carrier Volaris initiated nonstop service from ONT to its Mexico City base earlier this month. Delta Air Lines, which resumed daily, nonstop service to its Atlanta hub in July, began twice daily, nonstop flights to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in October. Southwest Airlines restarted its Chicago Midway International Airport route while United Airlines resumed flying to Houston’s George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport in August.

Denver-based Frontier Airlines announced in recent days that it will add or restart flights to seven popular U.S. destinations to its ONT schedule between February and May in 2021.

Ontario airport continues intensive efforts to keep passengers and guests safe while in the airport and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by frequently sanitizing restrooms, gate areas and high-touch surfaces with highly effective disinfectant, and utilizing security screening trays treated with powerful antimicrobial technology.

Ontario requires appropriate face covers for all customers, visitors and employees. Passengers are urged to wash hands with soap and water frequently and use the many hand sanitizing stations that have been added throughout ONT terminals. Vending machines including personal protective equipment such as face covers, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are also located in passenger terminals.

“The pandemic has impacted life in every aspect, but we strive every day with our airline partners to take steps to reassure passengers that they can travel safely,” Thorpe said.

The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.

Transportation

SMART Airports Conference to bring airport leaders and innovators from around the world to Ontario, California

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Ontario International Airport and Southern California’s dynamic Inland Empire will be on the global stage next week as aviation leaders from around the world gather for the 2022 SMART Airports & Regions Conference.

Ontario International Airport (ONT) and Southern California’s dynamic Inland Empire will be on the global stage next week as aviation leaders from around the world gather for the 2022 SMART Airports & Regions Conference – one of the aviation industry’s largest and most prestigious annual events.

The three-day conference opens Monday, July 18, at the Ontario Convention Center, and will focus on topics ranging from how aviation can inspire new economic opportunities in a post-pandemic world to the role of airports as incubators for innovation in urban development and regional connectivity.

Ontario and the Inland Empire are an ideal location for this global gathering. We have one of the fastest-growing airports in the world, in the heart of one of the most robust population and economic centers in the U.S. And when it comes to innovative multimodal transportation solutions, no region can match what’s being done here to redefine mobility and access while creating new economic development opportunities,” said Alan D. Wapner, President of the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) and Mayor pro Tem of the City of Ontario.

The SMART Airport & Regions Conference is being co-hosted by ONT and the Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau (GOCVB). Among the more than 50 speakers and presenters will be several leaders from the two organizations, including Wapner, OIAA Commissioners Ron Loveridge and Curt Hagman, the airport’s Chief Executive Officer Atif Elkadi, Chief Capital Development Officer Michelle Brantley and Chief Commercial Officer Dan Cappell, and GOCVB President and CEO Michael Krouse.

The event comes as ONT is in the midst of a historic run that has seen travel volumes exceed pre-pandemic levels for three months in a row, including, in May, the highest number of passengers since the airport’s return to local ownership in 2016. For the past four years, ONT has been recognized by Global Traveler as the fastest-growing airport in the United States, and its role as an economic driver and preferred aviation gateway for millions of Southern Californians is helping to drive significant transit investments across the region. Upcoming projects include zero-emission bus-rapid transit, hydrogen-powered passenger rail and an all-electric-vehicle tunnel from a planned state-of-the-art multimodal transit center.

In addition, ONT plays a critical role in the Inland Empire’s emergence as a global goods movement hub, and today ranks among the Top 10 cargo airports in North America.

“We have a great story to tell – here at ONT and across this great region we serve. The Inland Empire is now the 12th largest – and fifth fastest-growing – metropolitan area in the U.S., with a quality of life that is unmatched. We’ve prepared ourselves to meet those growth needs, while preserving the convenience and positive customer experience that have become our hallmark,” said Elkadi, ONT’s CEO.

“We are thrilled to host this event at Ontario Convention Center and to expose the world-wide attendees to the heart of Southern California’s Inland Experience! Our Convention & Visitors Bureau is here to welcome our visitors and provide information on the amenities and destinations in our region,” said Krouse, GOCVB’s President & CEO.

While the SMART Airports & Regions Conference officially opens on Monday, programs and presentations begin Tuesday. A complete agenda is available here.

 

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Travel & Tourism

Ontario International Airport passenger volumes beat pre-pandemic levels for fourth straight month in June

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Southern California gateway reported 2.6 million passengers year to date, signaling full recovery is at hand

Once again, Ontario International Airport exceeded pre-pandemic passenger volumes for the fourth consecutive month. More than half a million airline passengers traveled through Ontario International Airport (ONT) in June, almost 8% more than the same month in 2019 and the fourth consecutive month the Southern California gateway has exceeded pre-pandemic passenger levels.

Ontario International reported 514,000 total passengers last month, almost 20% more than June last year. Domestic travelers totaled 496,691 in June, increases of 10% and 18% compared with June 2019 and 2021, respectively.

On a year-to-date basis, ONT recorded 2.6 million passengers, 2.6% higher than the first half of 2019 and 60% more than the same period last year. Domestic travelers, who continue to drive ONT’s resurgence, totaled more than 2.5 million from January through June.

“Ontario International’s performance this year shows what full recovery looks like and we couldn’t be happier for it,” said Alan D. Wapner, president of the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) Board of Commissioners and Mayor pro Tem for the City of Ontario. “With demand for air travel through ONT growing month after month, we are ramping up for more air service by opening all of our 27 aircraft terminal gates, providing travelers the seamless, efficient experience they’ve come to expect.”

“We have worked tirelessly since the onset of the pandemic to be ready for a resurgence in air travel, and airlines and air passengers are showing their faith in Ontario as we continue to deliver a first-rate and stress-free customer experience,” said OIAA Chief Executive Officer Atif Elkadi.

Air cargo shipments by weight grew more than 14% compared with June 2019. The nearly 72,000 tons which moved through ONT in June were almost equal to the same month last year.

For the first six months of the year, cargo tonnage was 12% higher than the same period in 2019.

“Ontario International continues to be a tremendous public asset for the Inland Empire, setting the pace for pandemic recovery among U.S. airports while offering appealing facilities and cost-efficient services to our airline and shipping partners,” Wapner said.

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Travel & Tourism

FAA Awards Ontario International Airport another $10.77 million for taxiway, airfield improvements

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Ontario International Airport has received an additional $10.77 million in infrastructure funding from the FAA.

Ontario International Airport will receive another $10.77 million from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to invest in infrastructure improvements at the aviation gateway of choice for millions of Southern Californians.

The FAA announced this week that it is awarding a total of $518 million to airports across the country, under its 2022 Airport Improvement Program. ONT will receive the largest amount within California – for taxiway improvements and expanding the lighting vault that serves the airport’s runways.

The announcement comes less than a year after ONT was awarded $12.68 million through the FAA and the American Rescue Plan Act for taxiway and runway improvements.

“I’m grateful to our staff for preparing a successful funding application and to the FAA for continuing to bring infrastructure and airfield improvement dollars to the fastest-growing passenger airport in the U.S.,” said Alan D. Wapner, President of the Ontario International Airport Authority Board of Commissioners and Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Ontario.

ONT has been one of the aviation industry’s great success stories, eclipsing pre-pandemic passenger volumes and ranking among the Top 10 cargo airports in North America. The airport also plays a critical role in the Inland Empire’s emergence as one of the fastest-growing population centers in the United States and a global supply chain hub.

“In communities of all sizes, airports are vital to local economies, sustaining jobs and getting people and goods where they need to go,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, in announcing this week’s funding awards. “We’re pleased to announce this important funding to help improve airports around the country and better serve all Americans.”

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