Avis Rent A Car will close its office at the Eureka-Arcata airport on June 27. Alamo, Hertz and National will remain on site. It is always sad to report the closing of a business or an office up here and this is no different.
In a local version of the Harmonic Convergence, our still NOT renamed airport will host BOTH the Wings of Freedom air meeting AND the Goodyear blimp on Tuesday June 9. The Wings of Freedom event offers a chance to tour vintage Word War II aircraft, and the blimp!! Well, what can you say about the blimp other than that it is the most recognizable American icon, apart from the Statue of Liberty.
The festivities actually start on the 8th and the exact date of the blimps’ arrival is unclear (it takes several days to get here from Long Beach) . Check the papers or the Fly Humboldt Facebook page for updates.
An interesting development is reported by the Sacramento Business News. Surf Air, a private membership airline headquartered in Santa Monica and flying out of the old McClellan AFB, is flying round-trips between Santa Rosa, Hawthorne and San Carlos beginning next month, and will add service between Monterey and Hawthorne and San Carlos in July. On August 24, they’ll begin round-trips between McClellan and Hawthorne, San Carlos and Santa Barbara. Then in November they’re adding service between Palm Springs and Burbank and Oakland.
A private airline? Affordable?? Well, maybe. Surf Air’s customers pay a flat monthly fee starting at $1750 for membership and unlimited flights. If you’re doomed to fly more than three or four times a month, it starts looking downright reasonable. Add in the sheer pleasure of not having to deal with the major airlines and…well, I’d sure like to try it.
In another development, Pen Air, which is supposed to start service beween Crescent City and Portland later this year, is making nice with the Redding airport folks and has been heard to say they are interested in flying out of AVC. We’ll see. Stay tuned.
I was surprised, as was airport management, apparently, to hear that the Silver Lining restaurant at the Humboldt County Redwoods whatever airport is closed. That’s a big step backward for the folks who have been promoting the airport and while I don’t think many flyers would cancel a flight because their destination didn’t have a coffee shop, it still doesn’t say much for the infrastructure we offer our visitors.
According to the NCJ, an attempt will be made to find another operator. That might be difficult. Most airport restaurants overlook a busy runway where diners can observe takeoffs and landings more often than four times a day. Maybe the County should contract with Dell’ Arte or Access Humboldt or someone else who can produce a light show to resemble a busy airport. At least it would LOOK like the return of normalcy. Stay tuned.
“Please come to Boston in the springtime..” Remember that song? Well, you might not make it by springtime but starting June 18 and continuing till September you’ll be able to fly to Boston NONSTOP from Sacramento on Jet Blue for as little as $199 each way. Take your kids on the Freedom Trail! Or catch the train up to Montreal- a one day ride- and show them a foreign country. That last would be my plan and I’m almost excited enough about it to consider flying again.
In other transportation news, Siemens is having a kind of expo on February 25 and 26 on the Capitol Steps to advertise its bid re: the HSR contracts. Again, it sounds like a lot of fun for train freaks (like me) and kids (like me.) Check it out here or if the link doesn’t work check the Feb 12 edition of the Sacramento Business News.
Don’t read this if you’re looking for good news for airline passengers. A friend of the blog compiled the following links which show that no matter how bad it gets, there’s always room for worse.
1. You’ve noticed the carriers imposing more and more fees along with the regular airline fares? Try 1200% in the past seven years, like from $2.4 B in fees in 2007 to $31.5 B in 2013. More carriers are counted in the later figures but the fees are all coming from the same source: you. 60% of these fees are from the sale of frequent flyer points, 25% for baggage fees, the rest from such services as early boarding and extra-leg-room seating fees. Here, courtesy of Yahoo Finance is a full accounting.
2. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that TSA is also raising its fees. The current fee is $2.50 for non stop and $5 for a connecting flight. The new rate is $5.60 per flight with any connecting longer than four hours counting as a separate flight. That may not sound like much but it adds up, especially when you miss your connection due to delays leaving ACV and end up with a ten-hour layover at O’Hare. Here is an account from USA Today.
3. The impact of the war in Ukraine and its spinoffs will be enormous and it is probably too early to assess. The route changes resulting from the war are coming at a time when fuel prices are at an all-time high. When the carriers are squeezed, guess who they’ll pass the increase onto? The Hindu Business Line newsletter carried an analysis but the link is no longer available. Time moves quickly in the Middle East.
LOCAL UPDATE: The Airport Advisory committee did not have its meeting as scheduled yesterday for lack of a quorum but Emily Jacobs reported that there was “some” interest in serving ACV demonstrated by other carriers at the confab in Edmonton. Someone reported that Santa Rosa is improving its runways in anticipation of DIRECT FLIGHTS TO HAWAII. Wouldn’t that be great? Yes, it would.
My heart sank when I read this. It CAN’T get any worse, can it? Then I realized I was reading about Ukraine. Here, to give you something to think about besides the elections are accounts of two meetings in the last 48 hours, the County Airport Advisory Committee and the Humboldt Harbor Working Group. On the latter website, look up at the banner and click on “Community Forums” to see what’s coming up.
The Airport group meets on the 4th Tuesday of each month, currently at the Prosperity Center, 520 E Street. Eureka. I won’t give a blow-by-blow description because they have a very competent secretary, Mr. Fenton, who provides minutes of the meetings, so here’s just a few of the juicier items that came up.
-The Quest For Another Carrier. A small delegation from ACV ( Gregg Foster and Emily Jacobs, according to the Fly Humboldt Facebook page) staff will travel to Edmonton for a meeting on June 3 with THREE major airlines. These meetings were described as something like Shark Tank with numbers and load factors being bandied about. Apparently we were the only small airport to get meetings with THREE possibles, so that’s good work. This is against a backdrop of United cutting service to Vegas and cutting a Portland route which also serviced Eugene. Not specifically addressed at the meeting but clearly on everyone’s mind was trend by UAL and other majors to dump their low-volume routes in favor of jumbo jets (the “Dreamliner”) carrying big crowds to big cities. We wish the ACV folks well in Edmonton. If you’ve ever been there, you know they’re not going for fun.
-Infrastructure issues at ACV are going to be critical as the new Courthouse spurs expansion. Right now there isn’t even a safe way for pedestrians to get from the Holiday Inn to the airport without running across Airport Road with their baggage and limited visibility. HCOAG was at the meeting yesterday to present their initial plan for ground access. This will be a high priority since killing tourists is bad for business. The remarks was made that “We have so many needs, and not much money.” The word “insurance” was used at least 30 times during the meeting, just another factor in a complex operation. They will be working with Moser Properties to develop safe pedestrian and bus access
-The FAA is not the easiest agency to work with.
-The proposal to rename the airport the gawdawful “California Redwood Coast -Humboldt County Airport” is alive and well and the Committee will be writing to the BOS and to Jared Huffman soon for backing. Those of us who want to stop this abomination should act quickly. This County has already provided enough fodder for the late-nite comedians. Maybe the FAA will save us from ourselves.
EAST-WEST CONNECT- Ryan Burns was at the sparsely-attended Harbor group meeting and provided his usual excellent reportage on LOCO so I won’t duplicate him, not that I could. Bottom line is they’re looking for $300,000 for another study and have already been turned down by CALTRANS. This will be a long slog, but I’m a north-south advocate, so what do I know?
-To no one’s surprise, the courts have approved the merger of American and USAir, which creates the world’s largest airline. Meanwhile, United, our sole air carrier thru their sub, United Express, was the ONLY major air carrier to lose money this past quarter. To add to UAL’s problems, two of the runways at SFO will be unavailable this summer, leading to lots and lots of delays and consumer unhappiness for the unprepared.
What to do, what to do? Driving to Redding won’t help. They only offer three flights a day to the beleagered SFO, again thru United Express. Driving to Medford gives you access to Horizon, SkyWest, United Express and Allegeant which offer nonstops to Portland, Seattle, LAX, Denver, Salt Lake City and , seasonally to Las Vegas. Lots more choices, but a four-hour drive, which more and more people are doing from what I hear. Then there’s Sacramento, which offers many choices including direct flights to Mexico. Don’t forget your gas will cost $4.50 according to some predictions. Bargains will be hard to come by so be sure to share with us if you find any.
– According to The Economist China will overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy later this year, partly as a result of their relaxing the one-baby rule. Does this bother you? I see it as an enormous opportunity for Americans in the baby businesses -baby clothes, cribs etc. Their disposable income is rising so fast that the cheap COSCO stuff sold at KMart won’t be good enough for them. Humboldt County has never had a garment industry to speak of but wouldn’t it be nice if someone figured out how to make baby or children’s clothes our of that nice soft hemp cloth? Someone local?
-Greg Gehr an FOB -Friend of the Blog- shared a link to Titan TV as an alternative to whatever comes out in this week’s URGE. I was pretty impressed especially as it gives more info, like is the show new or a repeat. Definitely useful. Thanks, Greg!
-Another FOB shared this about Northern Redwood Federal Credit Union, an institution I have not dealt with but considering my recent travails with Coast Central I just might look into them. Their Visa Classic Credit Card offers a 1% cash back applied as a credit to your savings account. They’re at 1270 Giuntoli Lane in Arcata and the phone is 800-822-5903. Jenna Cardoza is their Operations Officer and you might want to check them out.
– Finally just a peek into the future. The Eureka Fair Wage initiative is felt by its backers to be a sure shot for qualifying for the ballot in November and you’ll be hearing plenty about it before them because it is already a bone of contention between the two 4th District Supervisorial contenders, Kerrigan in favor and Bass against. This is an enormous issue for Eureka so pay attention! There should be some lively debate and it may well affect YOUR pocketbook.
See you later. Gonna be a busy summer!
FISHERMAN’S TERMINAL RESTAURANT/MARKET
Ever wanted to run a restaurant?
Check this out: “The City of Eureka is soliciting proposals from qualified restaurant/cafe’ operator(s) to establish a restaurant/cafe’ and retail seafood counter at the Fisherman’s Terminal Building located at #4 C Street and Waterfront Drive.” The announcement from the City continues, “An outdoor patio area for alfresco dining is also incorporated into the space. The restaurant/cafe’ is located at the east end of the Fisherman’s Terminal Building with unparalleled views of picturesque Humboldt Bay, and is adjacent to the newly constructed C Street Market square, the Madaket docking facility and Ticket Booth, and Old Town”. The announcement adds, “A low-interest loan may be available to a qualified applicant.”
This is a tremendous opportunity for some entrepreneur to play a major role in our waterfront revitalization, and a couple dozen have already expressed interest. To receive a complete Request for Qualifications package or ask any questions, contact Judy Harrison, Economic Development Coordinator, by email at email@example.com or call (707) 268-1830. Here’s some more info from Economic Development. Be patient if it takes them a while to get back to you; there are only
four 1.5 people in the section and this is a major undertaking. DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTAL IS JANUARY 31, so get busy and be a part of Eureka’s history! And make some money, too.
AIRPORT TURBULENCE: First, the good news, for frequent flyers anyway. The TSA has opened three enrollment centers to enable frequent airline passengers to pass through security more quickly. Once enrolled in the program, flyers will be excused from removing shoes, belts and jackets and from having to remove their laptops to display to the TSA screeners. What’s the catch? Well, they have to be fingerprinted and pay an $85 fee, good for five years. Where are these enrollment centers? At Sac International, Stockton and- wait for it- EUREKA!!! According to the AP, the centers went online on the 15th and, by the way, they refer to our airport as EUREKA, not that six-word name that I can never remember.
So that’s the good news. The bad is that airport usage from 2007 thru 2012 is wildly inconsistent, with SFO increasing by 27% and Oakland and Burbank DOWN by 31%. San Jose declined by 22% while Sacramento, which just opened its new $1B Terminal B (“B” for “Billion” I suppose) has declined by 18%. I find this puzzling. Who wouldn’t rather fly into Oakland or San Jose than SFO, given a choice? With the recession, the choices are realigning and becoming fewer in number. See the “Fly Humboldt” Facebook page for more info. Also, Ms. Emily Jacobs, Administrator at ACV, has promised us an update on airline recruitment efforts in the near future. So watch this space!
REDDING WANTS FLIGHTS- Redding airport officials and civic leaders, including representatives of the mega- Bethel Church, have met or are scheduled to meet with representatives of United Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, American, Delta and Alaska Air with an eye to restoring direct service to LA perhaps as soon as this summer. Shasta County has built up a nonbinding travel bank of $1M and Modesto is hurrying to do the same. Now is the time to start pushing for schedule changes because SFO will be losing one of its runways for several months due to repairs. Note to self: avoid SFO during that time. Everyone wants the LAX routes.
The Bethel Church in Redding welcomes 12,000 visitors a year, many of whom come in by air, but many more of whom come by car from Sacramento or SF. The church has basically taken over their Civic Auditorium. and is a major player in the Redding economy. Think of all the rental cars and hotel rooms! That’s like 3 or 4 Jazz Festivals. We’ll bring you an update soon on local efforts to to bring us more service through ACV. Sorry, I can’t remember the six-word name they want us to call it. I figure this, too, shall pass.
STORAGE WARS, HUMBOLDT STYLE- A couple of weeks ago I showed up at one of those storage locker sales you see listed in the Times-Standard. I wanted to see it if in anyway resembled what you see on TV. The sale was at the Myrtle Avenue Storage Center, the one across the street from John’s Liquors and the taco truck whose name I can never recall but which serves darn good food. A group of about 20 folks were waiting for the sale which was advertised as five units but had shrunk to two by the time of the opening bid. The facility manager, Chris Mikkelson, went over the rules and then led the folks who were interested to a second-level unit. They trooped upstairs and came back down pretty fast. The upstairs unit went for $25.
Then we went to inspect the other unit. It was PACKED, I mean really PACKED, to the gills. Anyone who claims they can tell what’s in one of these has got to be psychic. All I could see was the ends of boxes. The second unit went for $25 dollars. The bidding was not as fast or frantic as they try to make it sound ; I didn’t have any trouble following it. Also the successful bidders were given till the end of the next day to vacate the locker. Very civilized, as I had envisioned a frantic race to truck everything out immediately.
Mr Mikkelson told me that these units are very seldom vacant and are mostly rented by people in the neighborhood, which cuts down on the number of abandoned units. Anyway, if you have a truck and want to try your luck watch for the ads. This particular facility is a Kurt Kramer property and immaculately maintained. I don’t think they all are. When I get a chance to follow a winning bidder through the whole process, I’ll report back but I don’t think any fortunes were made the other day. Good excuse for a taco, though.
“COUNTRY OF THE YEAR” – Well, there’s nothing like losing a contest you didnt’ even know they were having. The Economist has named as it’s “Country of the Year” a place that is dealing with some of the same issues that the Redwood Coast is. This country has legalized gay marriage and drugs -ALL drugs- in the last few months. It’s 3M citizens don’t make the news very often and on the map it looks like a sort of tumor growing out of the top of its neighbor, Argentina. Yes, I’m talking about- wait for it-URUGUAY. We might do well to observe the effects of legalization there, if there are any. If anyone is organizing a field trip, let me know.