Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New CEO addresses expectations for Ontario International Airport (KONT) at political fundraiser

OIAA’s new CEO Kelly Fredericks, left, talks about his new position during Ontario councilman Alan Wapner’s annual quarterly event at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Ontario Airport in Ontario, CA, Tuesday, February 16, 2016. 

ONTARIO >> As the incoming chief executive officer of the Ontario International Airport Authority, Kelly J. Fredericks wants to manage expectations.

The OIAA is in the midst of a transition, as LA/Ontario International Airport changes hands from Los Angeles World Airports to local control later this year.

When that occurs, Fredericks said the beleaguered airport will not immediately see a return of the 7.2 million passengers the airport handled at its peak nearly a decade ago. That’s going to take some time.

“This airport has the capability of doing that, but we’re going to do that strategically,” Fredericks told about 60 people gathered at Ontario Councilman Alan Wapner’s annual business luncheon. “We’re not going to have an on-and-off switch. But if I didn’t think there was an opportunity here, then I sure wouldn’t be here.”

Attendees at the political fundraiser for Wapner paid anywhere from $1,000 for the annual membership to $5,000 to sponsor the event. Guests were given collectible varsity jackets and treated to a steak lunch at Tuesday’s gathering at the Doubletree hotel.

The appearance was Frederick’s first official visit to the region since being named the authority’s first CEO in January.

“The three things I continually think of is that Ontario is under-utilized, it’s under-served, but it really points to the word of transformation. That’s why I’m here,” said Fredericks, who through March 1 is president and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corp., which operates T.F. Green, the commercial airport serving Providence and the New England region.

Before the luncheon, Fredericks made his way around the room, meeting individually with local businessman and elected officials, including San Bernardino County Board Supervisor Curt Hagman, who is also an OIAA commissioner.

When Fredericks met Joe McKay of commercial real estate broker Lee & Associates in Ontario, the local businessman proclaimed he was “excited for you to turn things around.”

Later, McKay said he believes Fredericks is the right fit for the job.

“The airport is on its side, and I’m excited to have him come in and turn it around,” he said.

For the airport to succeed, Fredericks told business leaders and elected officials he’s going to need their support. Another key factor will be taking a regional approach. Fredericks said he didn’t see any of the Southern California airports — including Los Angeles International Airport — as competition.

In fact, he plans on meeting with all Southern California airport directors to determine how they can partner.

That was welcome news for San Bernardino Councilman John Valdivia, also in attendance. The city is trying to develop commercial and cargo service at San Bernardino International Airport.

“We have an airport in (San Bernardino) and we want to make sure we have a complimenting role and not a competing role to Ontario,” he said. “Overall, it was very welcomed approached to the region. I think it was well put that we’ll all be better as a region. I’m looking forward to his leadership.”

Besides focusing on obtaining the certificate of operation from the Federal Aviation Administration, Fredericks said he’ll work on developing a master plan for ONT — a blueprint for the future — as well as building an executive leadership team.

“There’s a lot of more opportunity than I could have ever imagined,” Fredericks said. “I truly believe this airport, this regions’ best days are ahead of them.”

Story and photo:  http://www.dailybulletin.com

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