Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the expansion of regional airline service at LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT) and plans to re-open LA/Palmdale Airport to commercial travelers Monday, February 5th, as part of a City of Los Angeles regional aviation strategy.

The airports are all owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports, a City of Los Angeles agency.

Villaraigosa was joined by Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, Ontario Mayor Paul Leon, Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford, ExpressJet president and chief executive officer Jim Ream and Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners president Alan Rothenberg.

Villaraigosa made the announcement while standing on the tarmac at LA/Ontario International Airport after marshaling in and guiding a new ExpressJet airliner from the landing strip to the terminal.

In addition to bringing new airline service to Ontario, plans are in place to re-open LA/Palmdale Airport to commercial travelers with service provided by United Airlines, starting in June with two daily flights to San Francisco International Airport.

“The twin actions will jumpstart our aggressive growth plans for Los Angeles’s regional airports and ensure that Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) will no longer have to carry the burden of meeting a greater-than-necessary share of the region’s demand for air service,” Villaraigosa said.

Over the past decade, LAX has seen a continuous increase in air traffic and the demand for service is expected to double by 2030, according to a city source, and currently, LAX is handling 50 percent more passengers than it was designed to handle. Last year, the airport serviced 61 million passengers.

Villaraigosa plans to work on easing the overcrowding at LAX by enticing other airlines to add flights to Ontario in the Inland Empire and Palmdale in the Antelope Valley.

“Expanding service here in Ontario and re-opening passenger service in Palmdale are great first steps in our effort to regionalize air travel in Southern California,” Villaraigosa said. “Regionalizing air travel is absolute- ly critical to the health of our Southern California economy.”

Coming to Ontario is ExpressJet, which will offer 29 new daily nonstop flights to 14 destinations across the United States starting in April.

With ExpressJet’s new service, the number of daily departures at Ontario will increase by 25 percent and the number of nonstop destinations will increase by 63 percent.

ExpressJet will make Ontario its Southern California hub and is expected to create 180 new jobs for the local economy.

“This is a great step in the right direction,” said Rosendahl. “If we are to meet Southern California’s air travel needs, we must expand service within airports that are located throughout the region. These airports have the potential to serve as major hubs for our traveling public.

“The exceptional partnership between the City of Ontario and Los Angeles World Airports is mutually beneficial. With construction and expansion of new facilities and service, ONT is on track to become Southern California’s next major gateway.

“ExpressJet’s new corporate service will fill the demand of Ontario’s growing resident and business population and further enhance Ontario’s role as Southern California’s next urban center.”