At the urging of Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn, who's trying to divert more passengers from LAX to Ontario, airport officials in Ontario decided Tuesday to rethink a plan to increase parking rates.
Hahn sent a letter to the Los Angeles Airport Commission on Monday that called for lowering landing fees and parking rates at Ontario International Airport, spending $1 million more for national marketing and starting a shuttle bus.
Hahn's push to encourage travelers to use Ontario has drawn praise from city and airport officials there, who say it will help promote growth at the underused airport.
"This is great," Councilman Jerry DuBois said.
"He is actually putting down in writing what the city of Ontario has been asking for since the beginning. It says a lot that the new mayor is prioritizing this to his commissioners right out of the gate. It speaks well for Ontario."
Ontario airport had planned to restructure parking rates on Sept. 15 by raising the prices at some lots and lowering them in others, airport spokesman Dennis Watson said.
Part of the rate restructuring was intended to encourage drivers picking up passengers to use the lots in front of the terminal instead of parking along the curb, he said.
But Hahn's letter to the commission caused members to shelve the plan. Hahn wants parking rates at the airport lowered within 60 days.
"We intended to post the new rates, but that is not going to happen for a while," Watson said.
Airport officials haven't taken a position on Hahn's request to lower landing fees for airlines.
Hahn also called for $1 million more to be spent on airport marketing, which could easily be done, Watson said.
That would be on top of a $2.3-million-a-year marketing plan for Ontario and Palmdale that the Los Angeles Airport Commission approved Tuesday.
Ontario Councilwoman Debbie Acker, who has criticized airport officials for insufficient promotion, said the millions spent on marketing will help.
"The mayor is a take-action guy," Acker said.
"I can't believe this. I am so excited and thrilled we are doing something."
In his letter, Hahn also backed the idea of a master plan that would address construction of a third terminal and feasibility study of a third runway in Ontario.
Work on the master plan is about to begin.
Last week, airport and city officials met with consultants.
There are no plans for a third runway at this time, and discussions about another terminal won't begin until the passenger count reaches 10 million for two consecutive years, officials said.
The airport had 6.7 million passengers in 2000 and may not reach 10 million until 2015 at the earliest, spokeswoman Maria Tesoro said.