Will Chico Ever Get Commercial Air Service Again?

Military planes still fly out of Chico, like this M. C. 130 P Combat Shadow that helps with firefighting. But there's no commercial air service.Sacramento Bee/ZUMAPRESS

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Six days ago, the Los Angeles Times reported that airlines are abandoning small towns:

Chico, with a population of 92,000, is one of 20 small communities in the U.S. to lose regular commercial air service in the last four years….At 91 other small airports nationwide, the number of departures has been cut by at least half in that same period, including Yuma International Airport in Arizona, Barnstable Municipal Airport in Hyannis, Mass., and Branson Airport in Missouri.

….“As airports lose frequency and destinations, communities experience diminished connectivity, which weakens their link to the global economy,” said Faye Malarkey Black, president of the Regional Airline Assn. The closures grew out of lessons learned by the airline industry during tough financial years capped by the last recession.

But wait! Today the Wall Street Journal says that airlines are flocking back:

Airlines are returning to midsize U.S. cities. American Airlines Group Inc. plans to launch 49 new nonstop domestic flights in 2018, the carrier said last week, mirroring similar expansion over the past year by United Continental Holdings Inc. that is taking carriers back to places such as Fort Wayne, Ind.

The shifts reflect big changes in airline economics, including lower fuel prices, a desire by carriers to attract more passengers to their fortress hubs such as Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, and competition on major routes from low-cost carriers that have driven down fares and taken market share….“There are markets that we’re coming back to,” said Vasu Raja, American’s vice president for network and schedule planning.

So when does Chico get its air service back?

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

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