IT COULD HAPPEN HERE! Modesto loses passenger air service.

Today is the last day SkyWest Air will serve Modesto City-County Airport, leaving Modesto without regular air service for the first time in at least 20 years. Modesto, with a population of 203,000, has twice the potential ridership of Humboldt and Del Norte counties combined. The Modesto Bee has a brief writeup, also carried in the LA Times..

The airlines have been complaining about supposedly onerous regulations which are driving up their personnel costs. These new rules, in effect since January, require pilots to be allowed ten hours of rest between shifts, up from eight. From a passenger’s point of view, a rested and alert pilot is invaluable. To the FAA and to the carriers, it’s just an added expense in a time when the emphasis is on packing the planes as full as possible.

The FAA in particular has been a monstrous employer for years.  The PATCO strike was largely brought about by the FAA’s inhumane scheduling of the air traffic controllers in a bizarre six hours on, six hours off schedule which afforded no one enough rest. At LAX the ATC’s rented apartments as crash pads since they didn’t have enough time to get home to the Valley for a real rest. Reagan of course destroyed PATCO. I don’t recall the name of he successor union but it sounds as if improvement has been slow to come.

This leaves ACV competing with  Redding, Modesto and God knows who else for air routes which will have to be secured by pledges of customer revenue. Sound familiar?

CORRECTION: In the earlier post on the Airport Advisory Committee I erroneously stated that the trip to Edmonton in which Gregg Foster and Emily Jacobs will be pitching for additional service to ACV was happening on June 3. They’re leaving on June 23rd instead and they have their work cut out for them. The Fly Humboldt Facebook page has further info on the Edmonton meeting. Let’s hope for the best but Modesto losing ALL air service? That’s scary for people who intend to continue to conduct business by commercial airline flights.

17 thoughts on “IT COULD HAPPEN HERE! Modesto loses passenger air service.


    United Airlines (Chicago) will end its Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia regional routes to Las Vegas on September 2 per Airline Route. SkyWest Airlines (St. George) currently operates its United Express Brasilias to both Fresno and Palm Springs from LAS.

    UNITED from 02SEP14 is ending selected regional routes from Las Vegas, where it’ll end operations for following markets, currently served by SkyWest Embraer Brasilia EMB120 aircraft.
    Las Vegas – Fresno Up to 5 daily
Las Vegas – Palm Springs 2 daily

    United Airlines (Chicago) has decided to drop its United Express flights from Portland, Oregon to Eugene, Redmond and Seattle/Tacoma on September 1 according to Oregon Live. The flights are operated by SkyWest Airlines Embraer EMB-120ER Brasilias.

    Aircraft replacing the EMB-120, like the Embraer 175, are going hub to hub in top business markets. Manufacturers are making 76+ seat aircraft only because airlines are only buying 76+ seat aircraft.

    A good fit for the ACV/LAX market per Delta Senior V-P is said to be the 50 seat RJ, that Delta does not have available for that specific market, again per the Delta Senior V-P. All available incentives were explained. Copies of letters sent to MLovelace.

    American Airlines (Dallas/Fort Worth) will end American Eagle Bombardier CRJ200 service between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara on April 1 according to Airline Route. Parking of the 50 seat RJ mainly due to the quadrupling of Jet “A” prices in the last ten years. Jet “A’s is uncompetitively priced above $1 per gallon at ACV as compared to surrounding airports. For example, Jet “A” is $1.23 more per gallon at ACV than at CEC (Crescent City, CA).

    • More depressing news. It was the curtailment of the Eugene service to Portland that got me started on my latest grumbling about air service. Thanks, Rick.


    Klamath Falls, Ore. – The Crater Lake / Klamath Regional Airport no longer has commercial passenger air service, as the last 2 United Express flights took off Wednesday morning.

    air crews were also hugging as they said ‘goodbye’ to co-workers.

    Many of the T.S.A. agents are how headed to different airports.

    “We’ve had air service since 1947, uninterrupted.” Notes Airport Business Manager Linda Tepper. “So to see what could potentially be our last flight leaving Klamath Falls, it’s a little sad.”

    The airport restaurant, and car rental services are expected to remain open…for now.

    It seems airlines continually evaluate service and make adjustments without recruitment. For instance: American Eagle upsizing planes
    Posted: June 3, 2014 – 5:41pm

    An American Eagle spokeswoman confirmed plans to upgrade service “We continually evaluate our overall combined network to ensure we are maximizing our fleet and profitability and matching customer demand.”

    The cutbacks are occurring with United and SkyWest because they are losing money and their stock price has dropped. In general, airlines don’t make much, if any $:

    How airlines make ‘less than $6 per passenger’
    By Dean Irvine, CNN, June 3, 2014 — STORY HIGHLIGHTS
    Airlines make average of $5.42 profit per flight, says expert

    United Airlines to drop Denver-Monterey flights
    Today in the Sky
    Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY 12:43 p.m. EDT April 8, 2014

    United Airlines will drop its nonstop route between Denver and Monterey, Calif., on June 5.

    United Express affiliate Sky West currently flies one daily round-trip flight between the cities on Bombardier CRJ-200 regional jets.

    As for the Denver route, United tells The Californian newspaper it has had to adjust its summer flight schedules operated by its regional affiliates because of a shortage of pilots at those carriers.

    United began its Denver-Monterey route in June 2005. The flight had an 82% load factor for the 12 months ending February 2014, according to the Californian. The newspaper writes “though respectable, it was less than the 90% average on competing routes flown by United from Denver.”

    Most of the action is Redding is at Oxford Suites where people pile into shuttle vans for the I5 drive to Sac. Redding’s airport is down to 3 SkyWest EMB-120’s per day, with a newly expanded terminal. The delays and cancellations because of weather at SFO are killing off this business. ACV needs to flattop the Security National hanger according to the COH aviation advisory committee (AAC) presentation to the Board and perhaps build a tower in order to bust the 0.25 visibility barrier to fog landings.

    The weather was that way at ACV this am:

    The first flight from ACV to SFO was cancelled today, the second was running over two hours late. Say good by to my little friend, the connection.

    • Ya see? It’s already getting worse. I have a friend who lives in KF and she always flies out of Medford. Connections is another reason why I won’t fly out of ACV again. Last time I was rewarded with a TEN-HOUR stopover at O’Hare. Thanks for all the juicy data!

  3. Separately, I think the business community is right to seek an alternative to United’s overpriced flights to SFO from Arcata. HOWEVER, the only realistic alternative is direct service to LAX. The success of an air route depends on a combination of local and connecting traffic. This is why the Delta flights to Salt Lake City were a financial failure: Little local traffic between the two cities and only a limited number of connections. So forget Denver and Seattle. Only LAX offers the right combination of local and connecting traffic in numbers to sustain profitable air service.

    • Basically agree with both your posts except that it should be emphasized that United’s seven flights a day will only be around as long as convenient for United and their awful service is making them less and less attractive as a choice. Personally I will never fly from ACV to the Bay Area again. Good discussion!

      • As long as United has a monopoly at ACV, they can charge whatever fare they like. It’s my view that enough people will always be willing to pay an outrageous fare for the convenience and savings in time of flying–even on United’s horrendously uncomfortable propeller planes–that this will be a profitable route for them. When airlines start flying empty planes, they reduce service. United has been offering essentially the same number of flights for years, so somebody must be using them. .

  4. You overlook the fact that Modesto is within one and a half hour’s driving distance of San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento. These cities have many direct national and international connections and are linked to Modesto by modern highways like I-5 and Hwy. 99. Humboldt County–with its 5-8 hours driving time to the Bay Area and combination of modern and antiquated highways–is hardly in the same class.

    • What you say is obviously true but I’m not sure what your point is. Are you thinking that our greater isolation will somehow protect us from losing flights? I think the almighty dollar is controlling.

      • My point is that it is mighty inconvenient to get to the nearest major airport from Humboldt and not that much of a hardship if you live in Modesto, which gives Humboldters a huge incentive over Modesto-ites to fly. A 1 1/2 hour drive on an interstate-type highway is no big deal. (I know because I drive regularly from So. Humboldt to Eureka.) Driving to the Bay Area from Humboldt IS a big deal and an investment of at least a half day’s time, not to mention the cost of parking your car at or near the airport while you’re gone. For passengers, the convenience of flying to the Bay Area trumps the expense, which is why United is unlikely to pull out of Eureka. They essentially have a “captive audience.” If this were a money-loser for United, they wouldn’t be offering 7 flights a day.

        By the way, I should have added Oakland to the list of major Bay Area airports. Norwegian Air now offers non-stop flights from OAK to Oslo and Stockholm on the latest aircraft and at a fraction of the fare charged by the majors out of SFO.

  5. I’m tired of hearing about further subsidies for airlines.

    When I first moved here, I had to fly out maybe 3 times every two months. I either had to travel on Saturday nights or drive because, with the fog, it was simply not safe to travel on Sunday and expect to reliably meet a Monday appointment. The fog will not change, and the large majority of Humboldt County citizens do not make much use of the airport.

    If the county wants to serve its people, it ought to subsidize a comfortable bus service to Santa Rosa, where you can pick up the various airport bus services, or link to public transportation that will carry you farther south.

    People who rely on the unreliable air service out of Humboldt can and should pay full freight, which is admittedly ridiculous. If not, Humboldt should subsidize a locally based air service, perhaps out of the strip at Eureka. It’s a fool’s errand to bribe Delta.

    • You have apparently been reading my mind, or my past posts. Santa Rosa is one alternative but a reliable shuttle to REDDING would connect us to a better airport with more connections, with I-5 buses, and with Amtrak. A shuttle to Eugene would be even better. Thanks for writing.

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