Ontario International Airport welcomes 30 millionth passenger since return to local ownership
Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2023 - 14:00
Officials mark milestone event with a celebration fit for Oscar winner
(Ontario, California – March 23, 2023) – When Jessica Burchett arrived at Ontario International Airport (ONT) today, she had no idea she was about to become an instant celebrity as the 30 millionth passenger since the transition of the airport to local ownership six years ago.
The departing Southwest Airlines® passenger and Rancho Cucamonga resident could barely contain herself when her boarding position was announced as the lucky traveler, winning free round trip airline tickets during a festive – and surprise – celebration at Gate 404.
“I won! I can’t believe it,” Burchett screamed as she was called up to the podium, unaware moments earlier that a celebration was being planned. It wasn’t until she got to the gate, and saw the balloons, signage and TV cameras that she realized something was up. In fact, she wasn’t even scheduled to be on the departing flight to Denver, with a connection to Minneapolis, changed her flight the night before.
“We literally were on a later night flight, but I needed to get to Minnesota, so I changed the flight. And there was so much fun, and here we are. I’m super excited,” she said.
Burchett said she frequently flies out of ONT to attend her children’s sporting events.
“It’s super convenient. It’s a few miles from the house. It’s easy to get in and out of. It’s my favorite airport,” she said. As for the free tickets, courtesy of Southwest®: “I travel so much for my kids sports that this is a money saver and it’s phenomenal.”
The celebration of 30 million passengers comes a little more than six years since ONT’s return to local ownership. In that time, passenger volumes have increased by more than one-third as ONT has become one of the aviation industry’s great success stories. Ontario International welcomed more than 5.7 million airline travelers last year, 2.8% more than 2019 and its highest passenger volume since 2008. It was also among an elite group of airports in the U.S. that, on a full-year basis, exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
“It’s not about the number – 30 million passengers. It’s about 30 million lives being impacted. That’s 30 million people meeting up with their families. It’s 30 million travelers who are contributing to the local economy, creating thousands of jobs for folks out here. That’s what this milestone really means,” said Alan D. Wapner, president of the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) Board of Commissioners.
“On behalf of the nearly 200 Southwest Employees at ONT, we’re thrilled to be part of this exciting milestone, connecting our Customers to the people and places that matter most in their lives,” said Jesse Perez, Ontario Station Manager for Southwest Airlines. “We’re thankful for this 38-year partnership with Ontario International and look forward to our next milestone.”
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About Ontario International Airport
Ontario International Airport (ONT) is the fastest growing airport in the United States, according to Global Traveler, a leading publication for frequent fliers. Located in the Inland Empire, ONT is approximately 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles in the center of Southern California. It is a full-service airport which, before the coronavirus pandemic, offered nonstop commercial jet service to 26 major airports in the U.S., Mexico, Central America and Taiwan. More information is available at www.flyOntario.com. Follow @flyONT on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA)
The OIAA was formed in August 2012 by a Joint Powers Agreement between the City of Ontario and the County of San Bernardino to provide overall direction for the management, operations, development and marketing of ONT for the benefit of the Southern California economy and the residents of the airport's four-county catchment area. OIAA Commissioners are Ontario Mayor Pro Tem Alan D. Wapner (President), Retired Riverside Mayor Ronald O. Loveridge (Vice President), Ontario City Council Member Jim W. Bowman (Secretary), San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman (Commissioner) and retired business executive Julia Gouw (Commissioner).