By Samuel Strait, Report at Large – February 18, 2021

Let’s be clear about our airport and commercial air service, Contour
Air, Crescent City to Oakland and return.  Without a pretty hefty
subsidy, Four million plus dollars, commercial air service to any where
out of Crescent City would be economically unfeasible.  Any thing less
than 15,000 to 20,000 passengers per year makes it difficult for any
commercial carrier to do anything more than survive unaided.   Without
some sort of a commercial carrier, our new airport terminal is just so
much more empty space.  And, finally without an extended runway for
small jet commercial service, the airport will find it difficult to
attract a carrier that will go somewhere other than Sacramento,
Portland, or Oakland.

All that being said, our local carrier, Contour Air, has put it to the
public that they would like to consider changing destinations from
Oakland to Sacramento.  Sounds to me like the Crescent City to Oakland
isn’t working out for them.   Over the past several months Contour Air
has suspended it’s Essential Air Service from several other under
preforming airports.   The claim is that the pandemic has made such cuts
necessary.  Contour Air has never broken the 10,000 passenger threshold
since it began it’s Crescent City-Oakland daily service.  One might ask
the question, why now is the change in destination on the table?  And
why Sacramento, another medium sized airport?

Let us take a look at that in detail.  Oakland has eleven air carriers
that maintain service to destinations within the United States and one
to Mexico as the only international destination. American Airlines does
not fly out of Oakland, which will become important later on in this
story.  Flights through Oakland entail luggage claim, recheck in, and
another trip through security.  It also can be up to thirty to fifty
percent more costly flying through Oakland, and it does not serve County
and City government officials need to access the State capital in
Sacramento directly.

Sacramento is home to fifteen domestic carriers and one international
carrier to Mexico.  Cost to on going destinations are not much of a
bargain, but Sacramento has one thing going for it.   American Airlines,
which recently entered into a code sharing agreement with Contour Air,
has eliminated the need to collect baggage, re check in, and go through
security again.  It also checks the box for our government travel non
stop to the State’s capitol.  The only problem with that scenario is
that American Airlines only has one flight per day out of Sacramento
and,     it goes to, you guessed it, Washington, DC.   Kind of looks
like the change is meant to benefit local government officials rather
than the flying public.

Going to Sacramento, may serve Contour Air, as they have a code share
agreement with American Airlines and they already have a presence
there.   It does not change the fact that interest in traveling through
Sacramento to other destination will remain unappreciated and not foster
any additional growth.  The problem continues to be the need for a
longer runway and access to a larger airport.   Nothing will change with
a new destination to Sacramento and Contour Air is more likely than not
to become another carrier of the past.

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