Chico’s Municipal Airport is expecting a good size federal check this week, part of an effort to re-start passenger service.
In the world of aviation, half a million dollars doesn’t go far. Nevertheless, Chico officials are hopeful this federal seed money will restore regular air travel. Potentially, with a couple of daily flights to Los Angeles.
An official announcement is expected later today or tomorrow. The money is expected to come from the US Department of Transportation’s Small Community Air Service Development Program.
The money can only be used to guarantee a carrier’s revenue and to publicize the route once it become reality.
Erik Gustafson, Public Works Director for Operations and maintenance said the grant is potentially pivotal.
“The return to a market, there’s a lot of start up costs and may go for years without making a profit. It’s really industry standard these days and something that’s a necessity to return commercial air service.” Gustafson said.
Chico lost its passenger service in 2014 when Skywest Airlines pulled the plug on service to San Francisco, citing poor revenue. High prices and frequent cancellations didn’t help.
Local business leaders and city officials have been working to restore service, saying the lack of it is hampering economic development. No airline has commit ed.
A consultant’s study found Chico Municipal could lure about 200 of the 750 or so area residents currently flying in or out of Sacramento daily, according to Chico Councilman Karl Ory.