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Mammoth slow-down stymies Carlsbad flights

Scheduled to start January 14

Advanced Air planned to use existing planes from Surf Air and Taos Air.
Advanced Air planned to use existing planes from Surf Air and Taos Air.

Yet another airline hoping to fly out of Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar Airport may not get off the ground. Unlike the past troubled efforts by the previous failed airlines, this time it’s not for lack of passengers or under-capitalization of serving new airline routes.

Serving winter skiers, seasonal flights from Carlsbad, LAX/Hawthorne, and Burbank into Mammoth Lakes, were scheduled to start December 14 by Advanced Air, an existing FAA-licensed public charter airline. The airline planned to use existing planes from Surf Air and Taos Air, which serve other destinations in the southwest through Advance Air operations.

However on December 5, Governor Gavin Newsom issued his Covid-19 stay-at-home orders, to be implemented based on the number of ICU hospital beds available in the state’s five geographic areas. Once that number dipped below 15 percent, which occurred in mid-December.

The shut-down has crippled the town of Mammoth Lakes. While the Mammoth Mountain ski resort remains open (outdoor recreation, with social distancing, is not yet restricted by the governor), hotels and lodging operators were forced to cancel reservations.

Unless one has a home in Mammoth, or a couch to crash on, or chooses to sleep in his vehicle, the town is shut down to visitors. If Advance Air were to fly, passengers would have no place to stay once they landed.

Unless one has a home in Mammoth or a couch to crash on, the town is shut down to visitors.

The governor announced last week, his shutdown orders, set to expire on December 28, would likely be extended for another four weeks due to zero percent ICU bed capacity in the SoCal region, which includes Mammoth in Mono County.

Reasonable flight rates were to be offered as low as $160 one way. Mammoth Lakes voters decided years ago to tax themselves, and visitors, in order to attract airline service by subsidizing fares.

Carlsbad’s $29 million passenger terminal remodel in 2009 has seen little use since United Airlines ceased operations in May of 2015. The terminal is currently locked down to the public.

In the last six years, previous attempts by other airlines to fly to destinations out of Carlsbad have failed. JetX Suites, a membership concierge airline, was short lived. BizAir Shuttle lasted two months trying flights to LAX and Las Vegas. Cal Jet started daily service to Las Vegas in September 2017, selling $69 one-way tickets. It suspended operations by April 2018.

97-year-old Rancho Santa Fe millionaire Ted Vallas spent seven years and an estimated $12 million of his own money trying to hub a regional airline, California Pacific Airlines, at Palomar. The airline finally got “wheels up” in November 2018, only to cease operations in January 2019.

According to the company’s website, Advanced Air is now scheduled to fly into the Eastern Sierra resort starting January 14. With the governor’s’ extend Covid orders, the company has yet to set up gates in the public passenger terminal at Palomar.

The traditional ski season in Mammoth usually ends in Mid-March to late April, depending on the amount of snow received.

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Advanced Air planned to use existing planes from Surf Air and Taos Air.
Advanced Air planned to use existing planes from Surf Air and Taos Air.

Yet another airline hoping to fly out of Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar Airport may not get off the ground. Unlike the past troubled efforts by the previous failed airlines, this time it’s not for lack of passengers or under-capitalization of serving new airline routes.

Serving winter skiers, seasonal flights from Carlsbad, LAX/Hawthorne, and Burbank into Mammoth Lakes, were scheduled to start December 14 by Advanced Air, an existing FAA-licensed public charter airline. The airline planned to use existing planes from Surf Air and Taos Air, which serve other destinations in the southwest through Advance Air operations.

However on December 5, Governor Gavin Newsom issued his Covid-19 stay-at-home orders, to be implemented based on the number of ICU hospital beds available in the state’s five geographic areas. Once that number dipped below 15 percent, which occurred in mid-December.

The shut-down has crippled the town of Mammoth Lakes. While the Mammoth Mountain ski resort remains open (outdoor recreation, with social distancing, is not yet restricted by the governor), hotels and lodging operators were forced to cancel reservations.

Unless one has a home in Mammoth, or a couch to crash on, or chooses to sleep in his vehicle, the town is shut down to visitors. If Advance Air were to fly, passengers would have no place to stay once they landed.

Unless one has a home in Mammoth or a couch to crash on, the town is shut down to visitors.

The governor announced last week, his shutdown orders, set to expire on December 28, would likely be extended for another four weeks due to zero percent ICU bed capacity in the SoCal region, which includes Mammoth in Mono County.

Reasonable flight rates were to be offered as low as $160 one way. Mammoth Lakes voters decided years ago to tax themselves, and visitors, in order to attract airline service by subsidizing fares.

Carlsbad’s $29 million passenger terminal remodel in 2009 has seen little use since United Airlines ceased operations in May of 2015. The terminal is currently locked down to the public.

In the last six years, previous attempts by other airlines to fly to destinations out of Carlsbad have failed. JetX Suites, a membership concierge airline, was short lived. BizAir Shuttle lasted two months trying flights to LAX and Las Vegas. Cal Jet started daily service to Las Vegas in September 2017, selling $69 one-way tickets. It suspended operations by April 2018.

97-year-old Rancho Santa Fe millionaire Ted Vallas spent seven years and an estimated $12 million of his own money trying to hub a regional airline, California Pacific Airlines, at Palomar. The airline finally got “wheels up” in November 2018, only to cease operations in January 2019.

According to the company’s website, Advanced Air is now scheduled to fly into the Eastern Sierra resort starting January 14. With the governor’s’ extend Covid orders, the company has yet to set up gates in the public passenger terminal at Palomar.

The traditional ski season in Mammoth usually ends in Mid-March to late April, depending on the amount of snow received.

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