Passengers can board with as little as a 30-minute advance ticket purchase.
The Eastern Sierra town of Mammoth Lakes spends thousands of dollars each year subsidizing fares on several airlines, trying to get San Diegans to fly into the popular ski resort. However a new airline flying out of Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar Airport wants skiers to head in a different direction.
TAOSAIR started flying skiers and snowboarders to Taos, New Mexico two weeks ago, out of the Atlantic Charter Jet terminal at the North County airport. Though it is operated as a regularly scheduled airline through an FAA-licensed charter company, passengers can board with as little as a 30-minute advance ticket purchase out of the private terminal.
However in the last six years, ever since United Airlines ceased service in May 2015, five previous attempts by other airlines to fly out of Carlsbad have failed.
Surfair and JetX Suites, both membership concierge airlines were short lived. (JetX Suites still provide subsidized fares to Mammoth from Orange County and Burbank airports.)
BizAir Shuttle operated for two months with two daily flights to LAX and Las Vegas. The Chicago millionaire owner stated at the time he burned through $2 million “flying air,” with no more than five passengers per plane to LAX.
Cal Jet started daily service to Las Vegas in September 2017, with $69 one-way tickets. It suspended operations by April 2018.
Perhaps the most ballyhooed were attempts by 97-year-old Rancho Santa Fe millionaire Ted Vallas to hub a new airline in the style of the old and much loved Pacific Southwest Airlines. (PSA sold out in 1988 to USAir).
After seven years of on-again-off-again announcements, California Pacific Airlines finally went “wheels up” in November of 2018 with daily service to San Jose and Reno-Tahoe airports. CP Air shut down on January 15, 2019 blaming a lack of pilots for its woes. Industry analysts reported Vallas couldn’t attract the investors needed to augment the estimated $12 million of personal funds he had already spent.
For most of the last six years, the $24 million terminal, remodeled in 2009, has sat vacant. Perhaps North County travelers simply long for the days when one could book one of five daily flights into Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport aboard America West Airlines, connecting with their over 100 North American and European cities served, for the same price as flying out of San Diego, Orange County, or LAX? Unfortunately America West was sold to US Air in 2005.
McClellan-Palomar Airport is the nation’s fourth busiest single-runway airport, because of the large corporations headquartered within a ten-mile radius.
TAOSAIR is promoting itself for skiers to “enjoy the experience of flying private for the price of a commercial airline ticket.” Posted fares are $250 round trip. Departing once a week on Sundays, retuning on Thursdays, the airline flies into Taos from Austin, Dallas, and Los Angeles. TAOSAIR will cease winter flights at end of the ski season on March 29.