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Regional pledges needed to secure new flights to LAX

POSTED February 4, 2014 7:54 p.m.

Before the economic downfall of 2008, nonstop flights between the cities of Modesto and Los Angeles were common, providing regional businesses easy access to and from Southern California’s business hub.

As the economy fell, however, the nonstop air service between LAX and the Modesto City-County Airport became no longer available, leaving Stanislaus residents and businesses without a straight pathway to Los Angeles.

Recently, the City of Modesto released the campaign, DestinationLAX, asking for regional support for a new air service that would once again bring flights to and from Los Angeles through a major airline. While the name of the interested major airline has yet to be released, as the deal has not been finalized, DestinationLAX spokesperson Katie Jones of Sixel Consulting Group says that it is one that most travelers have flown on.

“We’re hoping to announce it soon, but not yet,” said Jones. “But it is one you have flown on, one that I have flown on, and just about everybody.”

According to Jones, the need for the nonstop service between the two cities is prevalent, as the service had only been discontinued seven years ago due to financial troubles.

“The last full year that Modesto had nonstop service to LAX was in 2007, and during that year there were more than 30,000 people who flew there nonstop,” said Jones. “There were a couple reasons why the service had stopped. At the time they had service, they had five flights to San Francisco and then added four flights to LA without reducing any of the San Francisco flights. When the economy turned, they weren’t able to sustain that, so the flights to LA were dropped. So we know the market is there, because it was there when the opportunity was last available.”

Receiving a multitude of support from area residents, DestinationLAX must raise $1 million in pledges by Feb. 28 to prove that the community will support the route. Without the pledges, the new flight service might not become available, as the interested airline may think there is not an audience to support the new service.

With the pledges, the City of Modesto has chosen to benefit the Make-A-Wish Northeastern California and North Nevada organizations, helping provide funds for air travel wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions in the greater Modesto area.

Several local organizations have pledged their support of the new air service, including the Modesto Chamber of Commerce, who believes the route will help bolster the local economy.

“The Chamber recognizes the value of the airport as a regional economic engine, and the benefits that new air service would bring to our community,” said Cecil Russell, CEO of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce. “Nonstop flights to Los Angeles will make it easier to do business in the state and around the world. We strongly encourage our members and partners to pledge their support. Making a nonbinding pledge is one of the easiest things for a business to do, and the results will be tremendous.”

To ensure regional support, Russell is encouraging local businesses to pledge a portion of their company’s existing travel budget to using the new route while telling others to do the same.

“If the Modesto business community can unite in support of this, the whole region will benefit,” said Russell.

If sufficient pledges are collected, the new service to LAX could begin as early as this summer. According to Jones, the new service would provide two roundtrip flights per day between LAX and Modesto City-County Airport that are ideal for business trips. Utilizing a 50-seat aircraft, the airline would provide departing flights scheduled for early morning and noontime, with return flights being available at noon and late evening.

“The flight that leaves Modesto at 6 a.m. would arrive at LAX at 7:20 a.m., which is a great time to catch any connections to the East Coast or other areas of the country,” said Jones. “With departing and returning flights available at both airports around noon, and another returning flight from LAX available in the late evening at 9 p.m., it’s perfect for those going or returning from business trips.”

The campaign seeking regional support for the new air service ends on Feb. 28. For more information or to contribute a pledge of support, visit www.destinationLAX.com

 

 

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