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?

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This is the rubber-meets-road moment: the early days in our first fundraising drive since we took a big swing and merged with CIR to bring fearless investigative reporting to the internet, radio, video, and everywhere else that people need an antidote to lies and propaganda.

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