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In Year of Pandemic, Ontario International Airport Saw Surge in Cargo; Passenger Volume Cut in Half

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Ontario International Airport freight volume rose 18% in 2020

Despite the staggering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global aviation, Ontario International Airport (ONT) looks forward to maintaining its position as a leading cargo hub and welcoming back air travelers in greater numbers in 2021.

Two weeks into the New Year, airport officials announced final statistics for 2020, with cargo volumes growing more than 18% year-over-year, while the number of passengers who traveled through ONT was down more than 50%.

For the year, ONT processed nearly 900,000 tons of commercial freight, 18.2% higher than the previous year. Freight shipments increased by double-digits in 10 months in 2020 and by more than 20% in six months. Mail shipments increased almost 17% to more than 25,000 tons last year.

In December, freight tonnage totaled more than 93,000 tons, 6% higher than the same month in 2019 while shipments of mail grew 340% to more than 3,600 tons.

Air cargo (tonnage)December 2020December 2019ChangeYTD 2020YTD 2019Change
Freight93,62288,2286.11%898,188760,04518.2%
Mail3,662832340.41%25,63521,94816.8%
Total97,28489,0609.23%923,823781,99318.1%

“Ontario solidified its position as a leading air cargo hub in 2020,” said Mark Thorpe, chief executive officer of the Ontario International Airport Authority. “Working closely with our freight partners, we not only withstood the surge in e-commerce shipments early in the year, we ramped up quickly to manage double-digit increases in commercial freight volume as Californians hunkered down at home and shopped online for vital household supplies.”

As for passenger travel, more than 2.5 million air travelers moved through ONT last year, roughly half as many as 2019. Domestic passengers totaled more than 2.4 million while the number of international travelers exceeded 95,000, decreases of 53% and 68%, respectively. In December, as public health officials urged Americans to avoid non-essential travel, passenger volume declined nearly 63% to 190,000. Domestic travelers numbered more than 182,000 and international passengers 7,000, decreases of 62% and 73%, respectively.

Even with the decline, ONT fared significantly better than most airports in California and across the world. Recent projections show air passenger volumes globally fell at least 60% in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

Passenger TotalsDecember 2020December 2019ChangeYTD 2020YTD 2019Change
Domestic182,779485,086-62.32%2,443,0425,279,722-53.7%
International7,75529,703-73.89%95,440304,010-68.6%
Total190,534514,789-62.99%2,538,4825,583,732-54.5%

“Despite the challenging passenger numbers for 2020, several airline partners restarted service to popular destinations in the second half of the year and announced additional routes for the first half of 2021,” Thorpe said. “We stand ready to support airlines operating at Ontario and we are eager to welcome back our customers as coronavirus vaccines become more widely available and travel routines return to more normal levels.”

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

Rancho Cucamonga and SBCTA Approve Sale of Property for Development of Brightline West Full-Service Transit Station

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Agreement clears path for high-speed passenger rail service in the Inland Empire connecting Rancho Cucamonga, the High Desert and Las Vegas

The City of Rancho Cucamonga City Council and the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) Board of Directors have approved the first step of the sale of a five-acre portion of the jointly owned property at Cucamonga Station to Brightline West. The agreement clears the path for Brightline West to develop the property at the northwest corner of Milliken Avenue and Azusa Court, and build the first high-speed rail station in the Inland Empire connecting Rancho Cucamonga, the High Desert, and Las Vegas. Brightline is the only private provider of modern, eco-friendly intercity rail service in America. The company currently operates between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach in Florida and is scheduled to complete construction to the Orlando International Airport by the end of 2022.

Cucamonga Station will go through a transformation in the coming years, making it the region’s global connectivity point and destination location for everything California has to offer. Transportation modes at Cucamonga Station will provide service through high-speed rail, the Metrolink San Bernardino Line, and Omnitrans Bus Rapid Transit and local bus service, as well as serve carpool commuters. Plans are also moving forward for a sub-terranean loop to Ontario International Airport (ONT), led by SBCTA, where passengers will be transported in just a few minutes between Cucamonga Station and airport terminals. In anticipation of deploying this service, Omnitrans has already launched ONT Connect, a regular shuttle service from Cucamonga Station to the airport that operates daily every 35-60 minutes.

“This agreement is a culmination of several years of working together with our partners and is a key milestone to bring high-speed rail to the Inland Empire,” said John Gillison, City Manager for the City of Rancho Cucamonga. “Cucamonga Station will serve as a global connectivity anchor within the newly branded HART District.”

“We are pleased to take this next important step forward in bringing enhanced transit connectivity to one of the fastest-growing population and economic centers in the country,” said Art Bishop, President of the SBCTA Board of Directors and Mayor Pro Tem of the Town of Apple Valley.

The Cucamonga Station will be strategically located within the HART District – a new transit-oriented, mixed‑use, housing, retail and commercial district that elevates the area into a walkable, culture-rich experience. Located within the area of Haven Avenue, Arrow Route, Rochester Avenue and the Transit station in Rancho Cucamonga, it will serve as a crossroads of food, travel, culture and commerce. The HART District is poised to be the next key economic catalyst in the region. To learn more, go to www.TheHartDistrict.com. The City of Rancho Cucamonga, Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau (GOCVB)Omnitrans, the Ontario International Airport, and San Bernardino County have established a joint effort for the project development and outreach programs. Additional project partners will come onboard as the project continues to move forward through the development process.

The Brightline West Cucamonga Station in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, will be home to the first high-speed passenger rail service in the Inland Empire connecting Rancho Cucamonga, the High Desert and Las Vegas.

Key Points to this Important Regional Project:

  • Third-party analysis by Beacon Economics, a well-respected Inland Empire-based firm
  • Construction is estimated to take three to four years, with ongoing operations beginning in 2026-27
  • More than $300 million dollars in construction spending in Rancho Cucamonga and more than $5 billion dollars in construction spending in San Bernardino County during the next four years
  • Estimated to support nearly 11,000 jobs per year across San Bernardino County and more than 700 jobs per year in Rancho Cucamonga during construction
  • Rancho Cucamonga can expect to receive additional indirect spending in the local economy from the jobs generated particularly during the construction phase
  • Much of the new jobs will be in the construction, architecture and engineering fields
  • The City could receive an additional $1 million dollars per year in property tax/sales tax revenues during the construction (3-4 years)
  • Ongoing operational revenues of another $500,000 per year for Rancho Cucamonga could be possible from local sales and property tax once the station is in full operation
  • Project will stimulate housing demand throughout San Bernardino County during construction and add tens of thousands of jobs (direct and indirect) to the countywide employment base
  • Countywide sales tax should increase near $100 million dollars and more than $70 million dollars from property tax during construction
  • Long-term operational impacts countywide will be in excess of $6 million dollars from property/sales tax
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Transportation

CA Inland Empire District Export Council (CIEDEC) to Present Cal-Mex Aerospace Expo on Sept. 22

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The California Inland Empire District Export Council (CIEDEC), a diverse group of volunteer trade professionals dedicated to helping develop export sales and thus contributing to the national export program, will hold its inaugural Cal-Mex Aerospace Expo on Sept. 22 at the San Bernardino International Airport (SBD).

The expo’s goal is to raise awareness and connect Inland Empire aerospace & defense (A&D) and space manufacturers with the supplier needs of more than 100 companies in the nearby Aerospace Cluster of Baja California, the largest in Mexico. Companies located in Mexicali and Tijuana, Baja California, are just 2.5 to 3.5 hours from companies in the Inland Empire. Due to geographic proximity and the demand for speed to market, Mexico’s nearby aerospace sectors can provide expanding sales opportunities for Inland Empire A&D manufacturers interested in exporting their products, components, machinery, and services.

“CIEDEC is most pleased to organize this strategic collaboration between the Southern California and Baja aerospace industries,” CIEDEC Chairman Bob Spence said. “This is a necessary linchpin in regional cooperation, which is necessitated by our new world order.”

Aerospace industry experts will share updates on trends and policy; export control/International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR); AS9100 certification and upcoming changes; cybersecurity essentials; drone pilot training; an overview of the aerospace sector in Mexico; aerospace export opportunities in Mexico; doing business in Mexico; and a B2B session.

“Aerospace is one of the largest and critically important sectors for our regional and national economies, and we are thrilled to support the District Export Council’s efforts to promote the growth of U.S. aerospace manufactures through cross-border sales opportunities in Mexico,” said Eduard Roytberg, director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service office in Ontario, California. The Commercial Service is part of the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration.

The speakers will include Tomás Sibaja, president of the Aerospace Cluster of Baja California, Mexico; Senior Commercial Specialist Silvia Cardenas (U.S. Embassy in Mexico City) and Senior International Trade Specialist Erica Ramirez (U.S. Commercial Service in the Inland Empire, California); David Graham, vice president of Aircraft & Component Maintenance at Unical 145/Unical MRO; and Kimberly Benson, president and CEO of Zenaida Global and an administrator for the UAS Center at SBD.

“The Inland Empire and Baja California share common interests and values in this sector,” Sibaja said. “The timing is now to engage our companies in business encounters and venture opportunities.”

SBD is the title sponsor for the expo, supported by the U.S. Commercial Service and the Aerospace Cluster of Baja California. Additional sponsors include IAPMO SCB, Alliance Buyers Group, EMG Global Business Solutions, Inc., Tablemation Solutions, ExIm20/20 Group, and ERS Consulting Services.

“SBD International Airport is pleased to support our aircraft maintenance and aerospace partners around the world,” SBD CEO Michael Burrows said. “This vital industry supports all business lines at SBD and airports across the globe.”

Early-bird tickets are $25 if purchased by Aug. 31, and $35 starting Sept. 1. For tickets, sponsorship, and exhibition opportunities, and more information about the event, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cal-mex aerospace-expo-2022-tickets-376792445347. To learn more about CIEDEC, visit ciedec.org.

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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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