Beginning Thursday, June 18, North County air travelers will again be able to fly directly to Los Angeles from Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar Airport. The airport was left without a public airline when United Express pulled out in April.
Operating under an FAA permit as a charter airline, Biz Air Shuttle will offer two flights daily into LAX, one at 6:00 a.m., the other at 2:49 p.m. Fares are advertised at $139 one-way. Flight time to LAX will be 46 minutes.
Service from Carlsbad to Las Vegas is planned to roll out in July, and Phoenix is scheduled to be added in August.
On June 9, Biz Air’s gate agent Krista was walking around an empty terminal looking to talk up the new airline with diners at the airport’s Landings Restaurant and those arriving to pick up rental cars. Krista was a former United gate agent at Carlsbad.
“I have friends that now commute all the way to Orange County or Long Beach because they wanted to stay with United,” she said. She chose to stay local and hire on with Biz Air.
Biz Air’s director of operations, Ricardo Gomez, has been spending time at LAX, courting the major airlines and the baggage-handlers’ union in an attempt to link up with a major carrier for connecting flights. Biz Air’s planes will gate at LAX’s Terminal 3, which is next to the Tom Bradley International Terminal.
The company is based out of Chicago and currently flies regular flights out of Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Saltillo, Mexico. The SoCal flights will use Brazilian-made Embraer 135 jets, which usually are outfitted for 37 passengers. “Ours have 30 seats, which will offer a little more leg room,” said Gomez, who pointed out that the planes also have Wi-Fi.
Biz Air’s entry into North County probably puts an end to 95-year-old Ted Vallas’s plan for start-up California Pacific Airlines, which was to be hubbed at Palomar. Reportedly, Vallas spent millions of dollars in an attempt to get FAA certification. As of the last report in 2014, the Rancho Santa Fe millionaire was looking for an existing commuter airline to purchase and re-locate to Carlsbad.
Last November, Surf Air, a concierge membership-based, all-you-can-fly airline, started flights out of Carlsbad, connecting with ten California cities using Premier Jet’s charter terminal at the Carlsbad airport.