LOS ANGELES, CA – MetroAir Virtual Airlines announced Friday their intentions to move their West Coast hub from Ontario International Airport (KONT), to Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX), 40 miles to the west.
Ontario was opened shortly after MetroAir began operation in 2005 and built its role as the airlines’ West Coast hub. As the airline grew, Ontario followed suit, eventually becoming MetroAir’s second busiest airport by number of daily operations. However, Ontario International Airport was built as a reliever airport for LAX, and was never meant to be the hub of a national airline. Due to small terminals and limited international facilities at Ontario, MetroAir shifted all Southern California international operations to LAX in early 2014. MetroAir was welcomed into the LAX market with promising numbers in their new LAX-Shanghai service, as well as favorable results to major domestic markets such as Chicago, Houston, Dallas, and Seattle.
Due to the separation of domestic and international operations, connecting passengers were placed on dedicated Allegius “shuttle” flights between Ontario and LAX. As expected, complications of adding another flight to passengers’ itineraries occurred and MetroAir executives knew operations had to be consolidated.
“Our main concern was the disruption that the separation of [domestic and international service] would have on our customers. We wanted to minimize delays and hoped that adding service to our main O&D markets would help” said Chief Operating Officer William Hogarth in a statement, “Our intention was to test the water with LAX and see what response we had. The results we got over the second quarter of 2014 only further confirmed our ideas of moving the West Coast hub to LAX.”
MetroAir will continue to operate out of Terminal 3 at LAX and will be the sole lessee of seven of the 13 gates. The other six gates are leased by Virgin America. Furthermore, MetroAir Virtual will have access to 18 remote gates located on the west side of the airport. All international flights will operate out of the Tom Bradley International Terminal, with select international departures departing from Terminal 3.
Hogarth stated MetroAir has no plans to abandon the Inland Empire by any means.
“We will continue to maintain a strong presence at Ontario International Airport,” he said, “While the total number of operations per day will decrease, we will still be here to serve the market that has given us so much over the past 10 years.”
MetroAir aims to complete the move by the end of Q1 2015.